Author : Colin Hasting(Big Chilli) New economic ‘corridor’ will benefit tourism and next-generation industries by David James
MAJOR changes are coming to Pattaya, Rayong and Chachoengsao in a highly ambitious government development project worth some 1.5 trillion baht known as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
New highways, double-track railways and a comprehensive makeover of existing ports will turn the area known as the Eastern Seaboard into a major economic zone in ASEAN.
Some 500 billion baht will be invested in target industries over the next five years, along with 400 billion baht on infrastructure, another 400 billion baht on housing, schools and hospitals, plus 200 billion on “quality tourism.” According to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Eastern Seaboard is now Thailand’s major industrial production base, particularly for petrochemical, energy, and automotive industries. The GDP of this area represents 20 percent of the country’s total GDP.
The EEC will promote 10 target industries, divided into two groups. The first involves the First S-Curve industries – those that already exist here and which have high potential for Thailand. They include next-generation automotive, smart electronics, affluent medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, and food for the future. The second group is the New S-Curve, comprising industries for the future: robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, digital, and medical hub.
This massive project will also have a significant impact on the region’s tourism industry, with U-Tapao playing a key role as the country’s third major international airport. After the recent construction of a new terminal, the facility can now handle up to three million passengers a year. Further expansion is planned which will increase capacity to five million a year.
Surrounding areas, including Pattaya, are already seeing an increase in the construction of new properties and a corresponding rise in land values.
Pattaya’s main bay is meanwhile set to undergo a radical transformation and clean-up, with the mostly illegal buildings on the seaside of the so-called ‘Walking Street’ being demolished to be replaced by a marine-style development of upmarket shops, bars and restaurants. The nearby area known as Bali Hai, which for several years was used as an unauthorised anchorage, has also been cleared of hundreds of speedboats to make way for a new park.
The commercial ports of Sattahip, Laem Chabang and Map Ta Phut will be upgraded to underline the Eastern Seaboard’s position as Thailand’s main link to neighbouring countries, with convenient connections to Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar, Sihanoukville Port in Cambodia, and Vung Tau Port in Vietnam, as well as a hub for logistics, and regional marine transport and travel.
The Royal Thai Navy’s deep-sea port of Chuk Samet at Sattahip will be developed for yachts and cruise liners. A high speed double-track rail system linking Bangkok, Pattaya and Rayong is planned, along with ferry transportation from Pattaya and Chuk Samet to Cha-am on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand, and from Pattaya to Koh Chang.
Other investment projects include a new highway linking Bangkok with Chon Buri, Pattaya, Map Ta Phut, Laem Chabang, and U Tapao. This highway will eventually extend north to Nakhon Ratchasima. The first section of the double-track railway is from Chachoengsao to Khlong Sip Kao and Kaeng Khoi, and the second section from Bangkok to Rayong.
Under the EEC plan, more promotional privileges will be granted to investors in this new economic zone. A One Stop Service Center and a fund for competitiveness development will be set up for entrepreneurs. Other EEC plans include the second phase of the Suvarnabhumi Airport Development Project, which will involve the construction of a rail link between Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, and U-Tapao.
Two inter- provincial motorways costing some 140 billion baht are also planned. One will link Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa-in district with Nakhon Ratchasima and Nonthaburi’s Bang Yai district with Kanchanaburi.
SOURCE: (Big Chilli) Author of this article : Colin Hastings