Kanchanaburi sees tourism prospects from Dawei project
The Tourism Promotion Society of Kanchanaburi is looking for ways to cash in on the rising popularity of the Dawei Project, a deep sea port in Myanmar, by promoting the province as a base to connect with such a mega-project.The group, comprising more than 100 local operators, wants the western province to benefit from the border connection by wooing tourists to stay overnight in the province, and not just passing through. The province is expected to play a role as a centre to process travel documents or create travel packages to Dawei before visitors return to Thailand for overnight stay.
The society's president, Songwut Sealdanchan, said it is a good time to do so because the basic fundamentals such as room supply and eateries in Dawei are not convenient enough to open up its tourism business. It will take at least five years to develop its infrastructure.
Essarapong Tansiri, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Kanchanaburi Office, said currently there are about 10,000 rooms in the province, of which only 10 per cent are four- and five-star hotels.
Last year, 7 million tourists visited the province, 5 million of them Thais. Foreign tourists mainly came from Russia, who like hot springs, and South Koreans for golfing. In the future, it more business travellers involved with the Dawei Project are expected to visit the province. Also, Chinese people are in the focus.
Songwut said tourism in his province has more room for growth in the future, especially after the opening of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
However, many local investors are not bold enough to invest in costly projects because they are not sure whether the market will grow stably, or about the benefits from the AEC and the Dawei Project.
Some hotels will be constructed, mainly mid-scale, in the future. See Fah Bakery, a local investor, will be building a new hotel at a cost of Bt200 million to Bt300 million to capture high-end guests. After its completion, the hotel will operate 60 rooms, with room rates at between Bt8,000 and Bt10,000 per night.
Currently, the province is mostly luring middle-class tourists. The average room price per night is between Bt1,600 and Bt1,800.
He wanted the province to develop in a sustainable way, with focus more on eco-tourism. The province should not follow the success story of Pai, a mountainous city in Mae Hong Son, he said. "Kanchanaburi should retain its identity as a destination for nature, history and the traditional way of life,'' he added.