PM says Italian firm interested in Phu Kradueng cable car project

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2024

Srettha meets in Italy with company interested in Phu Kradueng cable car project, feasibility study planned

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has vowed to go ahead with the controversial project to build a cable car at Phu Kradueng, a popular mountain in Loei province with an average elevation of 1,250 metres above sea level.

On Friday, Srettha posted messages on X (formerly Twitter) saying he had met and talked with Thomas Schubert, export director of Leitner, an Italian-based company specialising in winter sports technology, about the Phu Kradueng cable-car project.

Srettha, who was on a visit to Italy, said Schubert offered to sell Thailand a cable system suitable for the Phu Kradueng project.
But it was not clear whether Leitner wanted to sell its system or to invest in the project on its own, as Srettha later added that the Italian firm wanted to come to Thailand to do business and make an investment.

Srettha said the company had contacted Loei MPs to express its interest in the cable-car project, and they had later informed him of Leitner’s interest.

“The idea of building a cable car to Phu Kradueng has existed for years, and I believe some want to make an investment in it,” Srettha said.

He said that when the firm knew of his visit to Italy, a Leitner executive drove three hours to meet with him and discuss the issue.

“I believe this project can start soon,” Srettha said.
Phu Kradueng National Park is one of the most popular in Thailand, especially among local tourists.

Currently, the mountain can be accessed only by hours of hiking and by hiring local porters to carry belongings for the tourists.

Some environmentalists and hikers say they are opposed to building a cable car, saying the value of a visit to Phu Kradueng is from climbing on the long trails to enjoy nature. They also fear that building a cable car would destroy forests and other features of the environment.

But advocates of the cable-car system say it would boost tourism to Loei and elevate it from second-tier to first-tier tourism province. They say people with walking difficulties should also be allowed to enjoy the spectacular views from the mountaintop.

Srettha said the project could be done in just six months if the government makes a final decision to go ahead with it.

He said the government would next hire a consulting firm to study its feasibility and estimated budget.

“I believe it will bode well for the country if the project gets the go-ahead,” Srettha said, without giving a timeframe of the feasibility study.