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Phuket tourism operators call for a convention centre and ‘free port’

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…both of which have been on the ‘to do’ list for the island’s stakeholders over the past two decades.

“We’re the only province that still doesn’t have an exhibition hall.”

But now tourism operators in Phuket are renewing calls for an international convention centre in the area just north of the airport. They also want the island to be made a free port city, arguing that the combination would have a significantly positive impact on the local economy.

The President of the Phuket Tourist Association is also calling for convention centre plans to be expedited before new environmental laws come into effect. Thanet Tantipiriyakit points out that under new laws, the construction of structures larger than 30,000 square metres will be prohibited in the area in question.

As the current design for the exhibition centre requires space of 32,000 square metres, he says the project should be accelerated before the new laws are enacted. He says a proposal for the construction of an exhibition centre has already been submitted to the provincial Joint Public and Private Consultative Committee.

“Phuket was announced as one of 10 MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) cities in Thailand, but we’re the only province that still doesn’t have an exhibition hall.”

Thanet has also rebuffed a suggestion from tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn that making Phuket a duty-free island would encourage more tourism spending. Thanet says that instead, making the island a free port province would do more to support its status as a hub for the yachting industry.

“The concept of a duty-free town might not catch on with tourists as in the past. Introducing Phuket as a free port city will be more useful to lure specific groups, especially the marina market, as we already have four marinas with one expected to open soon.”

Granting Phuket free port status would mean yacht manufacturers and owners could use the island as a hub for importing boats and machine parts without incurring import taxes or complex customs bureaucracy.

Combined with the construction of an exhibition centre, this would make Phuket an attractive destination for international cruise and yacht trade shows.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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