The advent of ASEAN has bought Government attention and support to the relatively young but strong, Marine Industry of Thailand. With this in mind Phuket, being the forerunner in Thai Marine Infrastructure is seen as the “hub” for the future of Asia. To achieve and maintain this goal a complete overview of the environment, infrastructure and development of regulations must be constantly addressed.
There are many facets to the marine industry ranging from Mass Tourism & Dive Charter to Live-A-Board Sailors and Superyachts. Then consider the infrastructure such as marinas and boat yards that provide the facilities for the services catering to the needs of these vessels. It must be the duty of all involved to maintain basic environmental care policies however, the Marina or Yard must handle the “run off” of this industry. Stringent initial EIA applications and subsequent checks such as bi monthly sea water analysis, provide local guidelines and measures. Land water runoff is a major liability to our environment and at Phuket Yacht Haven a best practice example is the collection of water, pumped up to a treatment facility and then used as supply on the docks.
Thailand is a member of the International Maritime Organization, responsible for setting emission and safety standards for both ports and vessels. Phuket Yacht Haven, a member of the Marina Industry Association, is an example of a facility making every effort to meet these standards. While a private marina as opposed to a port, the increasing number of Superyachts that visit require facilities to meet their IMO or “Flag State” requirements: the marina provides certificates of safe rubbish removal & separation, waste oil removal and safety measures. This is currently self-regulated so, it is our personal responsibility to action what we claim. Phuket Yacht Haven follows through; the waste oil is removed in a truck that is certified to the take oil, the factory is certified to separate the oils and sludge, this is then recycled to bitumen and any water is used on plantations. Various accreditations are also available, such as the “Clean Marina” program, managed by MIA
Over the past 10 years the number of Superyachts visiting Thailand (Phuket) has increased dramatically, this season has seen 24 visit Phuket Yacht Haven alone. This number may sound small however the returns are very beneficial, throughout Thailand: The general running cost is calculated at 10 to 15% the value of the yacht and the value of a yacht is calculated at 1.5 million Euro/meter. Today, in Phuket, there are several 55m, 60m and 80m + vessels, if the quality of the facilities does not keep up and meet international standards, they will not…cannot…come. Pattaya, Ocean Marina, is also now seeing growth in the Superyacht sector and is developing new infrastructure accordingly. Maybe, most important of all, we are now seeing growth in Thai ownership of yachts and superyachts.
The Thai Marine Business Association, an active member of the TCC, has been working with various government bodies to find ways to help Thailand adapt to this new industry. Most of the present regulations apply to the commercial industry and long-winded procedures have been developed to “work with them”. Currently being addressed, at Cabinet level, is the initiative to increase the term of stay for foreign flagged vessels from 6 months to 3 years, based upon other countries such as Australia & New Zealand. TMBA has also been working on a “Charter License for foreign flagged yachts” as currently only Thai flagged vessels can operate commercially in Thailand. Obviously, many criteria must be met including being 30M +. The Revenue Department, Customs, Immigration and The Ministry of Sports and Tourism have all been instrumental, with TMBA, on this and when this is finally approved, it will open up the doors to the cruising grounds of South East Asia and truly complete the vision as “The Marine Hub of ASEAN”.
Overall this is a very healthy industry with a growing, proactive community and strong Thai involvement. There are talks of new regulations such as The Thai Navigation Act requesting higher application fees for “waterfront and water developments” and more stringent EIA requests but this should be seen as positive in maintaining the quality of Thailand’s infrastructure, economic and environmental future.