RAJA FERRY Port (RP) has unveiled its business plan for 2018, aiming to expand its fleet to serve 1.5 million customers this year in a push to become the top sea transport operator in the next five years.
RP has added a 14th ferry and started a bus-ferry service for commuting between islands, ready to transform the port area into a meeting station in response to the changing life styles of customers under a 10-year environmental management plan.
Apichart Chayopas, Managing Director of Raja Ferry Port Public Company Limited (RP), said the ferry business has enjoyed continuous growth. In addition to transport service on the Don Sak-Koh Samui-Koh Pha Ngan route, the company has diversified its businesses by teaming up with partners.
For instance, it has added a new service route to Koh Tao and is providing bus service under RP Transport to offer comprehensive service for passengers going and leaving the islands.
In addition, RP offers “Orga Card” for regular passengers, reducing the time for advance ticket booking to only three hours before journey to facilitate a faster service. Around 1.2 million passengers used RP ferry service in 2017, up 20 per cent over 2016 and about 600,000 vehicles were carried by RP ferries during the year.
“We expect a dramatic growth in the number of passengers to reach about 1.5 million this year, while the number of vehicles carried by RP ferries is expected to reach 620,000 units,” he said.
“We also expect the number of passengers to increase to two million in the next five years. While, the number of vehicles carried by RP ferries will reach approximately 800,000,” said Apichart.
Apichart said that over the next five years, RP would focus on the expansion of new potential routes, especially to islands, which are tourism destinations. The company would also increase the number of its ports at Don Sak district, Surat Thani, by another two to three to serve the increasing number of ferries.
“We will increase the number of ferries from 14 currently to about 20 within the next five years at a total investment cost of Bt300 million to Bt400 million,” he said.
For 2018, Apichart said, the company expected to see further growth in tourism, transport and the shipping businesses, particularly in tourists from China. Therefore, the company will diversify its services to cater to the needs of this customer group.
“Last year, around 35 million tourists visited Thailand. The number of international tourists is expected to reach 40 million this year. In the past, more than 80 per cent of customers visiting Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan were European and American travelers. Nowaday, young Chinese are interested in travelling to these islands. Therefore, RP has partnered with WeChat and Alipay to facilitate spending in yuan currency by these tourists. Consequently, this group of customers has more than doubled. Thus, we will focus more on the Chinese tour groups,” he said.