Thai travel professionals, headed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), are branding four less-visited Western coastal Thai provinces as the “Thai Riviera” in a bid to make them more attractive to both visitors and global travel agents that sell trips to Thailand to their clients.
Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, and Ranong — and their combined 528 kilometers of coastline — are those that will be pushed for the next wave of Thai tourism. The TAT hopes to welcome new visitors with these “new” destinations as well as lure back those who have visited the country before with the siren song of new attractive places to see in a country where tourism is one of the largest industries.
In the 2016-2017 year, Thailand welcomed over 32 million visitors, who brought in THB1.65 trillion (USD49.9 billion), making Thailand number three in terms of global tourism revenue.
Of the already established hot spots in the newly-developing tourist area is the seaside city of Hua Hin, in Prachuap Khiri Khan, but even Hua Hin is much more frequently visited by domestic tourists than international travelers.
Along the coasts of the provinces being pushed by the TAT are 25 national parks, 37 beaches, and 25 islands as well as golf courses and theme parks.
Though the province names may be unfamiliar to many international tourists, a quick perusal of photos of the coastline reveal places we’d quickly add to our list of must-sees. Chumphon’s Langa Jew Island and Ranong’s Khang Khao Island look inviting and sound new and exciting when compared to — what some say — are the tired tourist towns like Pattaya and those on Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan.
Siam’s would-be Riviera won’t happen overnight though, since the infrastructure needed to handle a large influx of tourists is not yet in place. A highway that runs through many of the provinces’ top destinations from Bangkok is still being built and won’t be complete until 2023. The government also plans to build a rail line along the same route for those that prefer to travel by train.
As part of the initiative, Hua Hin’s airport has already opened to a limited number of international flights but it would need to be expanded to handle more arrivals.