By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
Last year, Ranong recorded bilateral border trade with Myanmar worth Bt21 billion, with Bt19 billion of the total being Thai exports passing through Marid and Koh Song, and Bt2 billion arriving from Myanmar.
This was 10 per cent higher than the level achieved in 2014.
This year, the province targets trade with Myanmar reaching Bt30 billion thanks to strong demand for Thai consumer products in the neighbouring market, Suriyan said at a seminar titled “Ranong as a Medical Tourism City: Thailand’s Advantage in Border Trade”, held at the Tinidee Hotel @ Ranong.
“We are also promoting shipments from Rayong to BIMSTEC countries, for which the logistics take between three and five days by sea, compared with more than 12 days from Laem Chabang port. We are doing this by promoting the private sector to expand their shipping routes from Ranong to BIMSTEC nations,” he said.
The governor added that although the plan to build Kor Kod Kra port was still on hold, Ranong’s deep-sea port could serve marine logistics in the BIMSTEC region.
Meanwhile, the coming into effect of the Asean Economic Community this year has |resulted in Myanmar investors expanding their interest in Ranong, especially in regard to the import of Thai consumer products for distribution in Myanmar, Chaiyajet Jan-uksorn from Ranong’s commerce office told the seminar.
“We see more Myanmar investors expanding their investment in Ranong to serve growing demand for Thai consumer products, and also for construction materials,” he said.
Investors from both Thailand and Myanmar also are interested in expanding their investment to develop hospitality business in the two countries, in order to serve the growing number of tourists visiting both areas, said Wiriya Kaenkaew, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Last year, the overall number of tourists visiting Ranong was 789,666, up 8.22 per cent from the 2014 level.
Around 70 per cent of the visitors were from Thailand, with the bulk of the remainder coming from Europe, and from Germany and the UK in particular.
Tourist business generated income worth Bt10 billion for the province last year, she said, adding that the number of visitors is expected to grow by 9 per cent this year.
“Most of the foreign tourists stay in Ranong and Koh Phayam for an average of one month per trip, while Thai tourists stay about four days. Their spending averages Bt1,500 per day per head,” Wiriya said.
Many of these visitors also transfer to Koh Song in Myanmar, she said.
Given the rising number of visitors to the province, MBK Hotel and Tourism has set aside Bt20 million to develop an 80-room hotel on Koh Phayam this year.
This follows the successful opening of its 138-room Tinidee Hotel @ Ranong, which has been running at an occupancy rate of about 55 per cent, the company’s deputy managing director for finance and administration, Arthorn Vanasantakul, said.
“We see business opportunity in Ranong province for hospitality business,” she added.