Southern casino mooted - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Hotelier says complex would boost tourist numbers, stave off regional competition A businessman has proposed that a casino complex be built in the southern province of Trang to draw in more tourists and offset future competition from Hong Kong’s Disney Land and Singapore’s casinos.The project was one of the suggestions made during a meeting with Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Thepsuthin and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) last week in Phuket.Trang businessman Pitak Rangsritham, who also runs a hotel, said the southern region was in need of something different from just beaches and the sea and that a casino would supply that need.December’s tsunami disaster killed over 5,300 people, and Pitak said the business environment locally had not fully recovered.Average occupancy rate is at 15 per cent in Khao Lak, 40 per cent in Phuket and 50 per cent in Krabi. All of these figures are down from the same period last year.“I could see a casino in Thailand. I suggest that the National Lottery Department should take this project instead of the Interior Ministry,? he said.The move is one of the strategies that have been brought forward to help the southern areas draw more international tourists. The casino would be able to compete with Hong Kong Disney Land, which is scheduled to open in July, as well as two casino complexes planned for Singapore at Marina Bay and on Sentosa Island.Pitak said the government should put a casino in each of the four regions of Thailand to serve as magnets for tourists.Somsak said the government would work closely with the private sector to prepare a new tourism campaign for May of this year to April 2006.Somsak said the ministry and the TAT would try to rebuild tourism in tsunami-affected areas by means of more marketing activities in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan.Meanwhile the bodies will lure more domestic travel by relaunching monthly tourism campaigns with different themes.Khao Lak hotelier Yanyong Khorpeth said hotel-operators and airlines had to cooperate more effectively to attract tourists. He said if airlines offered cheaper fares and hotels cheaper rooms, more customers would visit the Andaman coast.

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