Although the word ‘Riviera’ is Italian and literally means ‘Seashore’, it is synonymous with France. The French Riviera, Nice, Cannes, St Tropez and Monte Carlo are names that roll off the tongue with an automatic familiarity. These very names epitomize luxury sunshine holidays, frequented by the rich and famous. Marinas with glittering super yachts, the glamour of Formula 1 races and the backdrop to many a blockbuster movie, the French Riviera has carved out a unique history for itself, one that is unlike anywhere else in the world.
It was in the late 18th century that the French Riviera became popular, firstly with the well healed section of English society, soon wealthy Americans followed and the Riviera’s fame started to spread worldwide. Initially, it was revered for its health benefits, the invigorating sea air and the temperate climate were seen as ideal for recuperating after a bout of illness. But it was not long before it evolved into a rich man’s playground, attracting the glitz and glamour that we associate with it today.
With the popularity and success of the French Riviera, other resorts attempted to mimic this rich person’s paradise, but none really managed to capture the unique feel that you get along the Cote D’Azure. Now, a new idea is in the early stages of germination. The Thai Riviera Master plan (TRMP).
The new Thai Riviera, or “Royal Coast” as some are portraying it, will be along the Eastern seaboard of Thailand’s Western Isthmus, taking in Phetchaburi and Chumphon provinces, which are part of the Southern Economic Corridor.
In February 2018 the TRMP gained cabinet approval from the Thai government, and by June 2018 the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) had given the it its full approval. Then, in August of last year the cabinet approved 28 individual projects which will be part of the TRMP with an investment of 200 billion Bhat.
This, not insignificant level of public financing, will go in tandem with private finance initiatives and investments, the trickle-down effect of this financing strategy will be to the benefit of small investors. Investors that have, or are considering, investing in Thailand’s property market, will now have unprecedented opportunities to invest in unique projects along the Thai Riviera that are likely to set new levels of financial returns.
New and Modernization of Transport Links
The TRMP has recognized that for the project to gain economic success, at a level perhaps previously unseen in Thailand, there are key factors which we must be addressed, and tackled with efficiency and alacrity, to form the building blocks for future prosperity. The most essential of the initial hurdles to overcome is that of transport links. New ideas to improve the transport links to the area are already being put in place. The ferry service linking Hua Hin to Pattaya is already in service, and other marine transport initiatives are already being discussed.
Talks are taking place with ‘Brimstec’ (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). This forum is discussing future international marine transport links with the countries, not only in Brimstec, but also those in the Eastern Economic Corridor, talks are currently taking place with Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. International marine transport links of this kind will add to the positive economic impact on the new Thai Riviera.
Flying is the quickest and perhaps the most convenient form of transport, and is becoming ever more affordable for more and more people. The importance of aviation cannot be understated and will play a vital part in the development of the Thai Riviera.
The area can boast three regional airports, Hua Hin, Chumphon and Ranong. Heavy investment is planned for all three of these regional airports. Expanding flight schedules, both domestic and international, along with the modernization of systematic infrastructure and facilities, will accommodate greater levels of passenger handling. Giving visitors the option of fast, convenient access to the area via air travel is an essential part of the Riviera’s overall transport planning.
Rail links from the capital will further increase accessibility to the Riviera for greater numbers of people. The construction of Thailand’s High-Speed Railway (HSR) was approved in 2017. The countries rail network will be modernized and expanded in three stages. Stage 1 includes the laying of a twin track HSR link from Bangkok through the Southern Economic Corridor. Work on the new HSR from Bangkok to Hua Hin is already underway, as is the planning for it to be extended further through the corridor taking in Prachuap Kiri Khan, and Chumphon.
Good road links are another essential element of the transport planning. The TRMP have planned a scenic coastal road from Bangkok, traversing 680 kilometers South, accessing all points of the Riviera, the first stage of this highway is now under construction. Strategically appointed Westward link roads will ensure that all resort areas and major towns are easily accessible throughout the region.
The ‘Other’ riviera, in France, popped up purely by accident. No one planned it, no one even considered the fact that it would become one of Europe’s most desirable visitor locations. But it did, and, ever since, the local administration has been playing ‘Catch up’ in regards to the transport links and infrastructure of the region. It is apparent that the TRMP are aware of this, and through in-depth planning and design, are determined not to allow the project to fall victim to similar pitfalls. Meticulous planning aforethought has been order of the day for the TRMP.
Essential Utilities Supply
All new buildings, business and residential, just as those that already exist, require water and electricity. These two commodities are essential for the existence of any populous. All too often, in areas all over the country, problems have been evident in providing a seamless supply of these essential utilities. Within the TRMP, much deep thinking has taken place to ensure uninterrupted supply of life’s essentials.
Electricity supply is being planned, to not only be sufficient, but to ensure a constant level of adequate spare capacity of supply to cover any, and all, eventualities. This network will be capable of handling any unexpected surges in usage. This primary supply is to be backed up by a series of localized auxiliary delivery networks to ensure that the risk of power cuts is at an absolute minimum.
Water is the natural commodity that nature has gifted to us, and the one essential element that sustains every aspect of our life. At a very basic level we cannot live without it, but in our modern existence we have come to expect, and rely on, an uninterrupted supply. Anyone living in Thailand will know that what we expect is not always what we get. An interrupted supply can be due to faults, equipment failures or essential maintenance of an ageing supply network.
Traditionally, at times, there is also conflict of supply. In many areas around the country the supply of water can be disrupted by the conflict of interests between agricultural and domestic need, and to which should take precedent. The TRMP are aware of the valid and varied interests of both areas of usage and conclude that neither has a greater need than the other. With neither sector being the lesser in need, it has been concluded to ensure the supply is in excess of sufficient for both sectors of consumption.
The water supply network is being laid with modern equipment, systems and methods. The goal being to have a water delivery network with the very minimum of downtime due to faults, failures and maintenance. In addition, the design of the delivery network is being done in such a way as to eliminate any conflict of supply and distribution. This is considered essential, not only for the on-going development of the riviera, but to help ensure that the highest levels in the quality of life for the population are maintained.
Thai Riviera’s Eco-Awareness
In many places around the world, and for many years, tourism has been developed with little or no regard for the natural environment in which it exists, and Thailand is as guilty as any other country in this regard. The pursuit of profit has been the master, and the master has demanded the quickest, cheapest methods and to take the route of least resistance. National and local administrations, along with developers, have been blinded by bottom line economics which has caused irreparable damage to previously beautiful areas of the world.
Traditional communities, natural environments and ecosystems have been destroyed, depriving, and to the detriment of, future generations of vast areas of beauty throughout the world. That is not to say that tourism should not be promoted and encouraged, it should. Tourism should enlighten, educate, bring colour and enjoyment to people’s lives, it should improve and enhance communities while also encouraging the distribution of wealth.
For too many years the precept of tourism has been to create a multitude of concrete carbuncles, neon, and hedonistic hot spots, then cram in throngs of people with money to spend. Holidays have been treated as a conveyor belt of monetary exploitation. Bring them in, move them on, bring in the next batch.
Thankfully, the world has woken up to this devilish, blinkered vision. Too many green spaces have been decimated and communities destroyed with traditional ways of life forever lost. Now a new vision is starting to prevail as the public become aware of the irretrievable damage that is being done to our world. More and more tourists are now looking for a kinder holiday experience. The demand for fun, excitement and adventure will never abate, but now the foresighted are driven to provide this in a way that preserves and enhances the world in which it will exist.
Preserving communities and natural environments is a prerequisite for the development of the new Thai Riviera. Under Thailand’s National Tourist Development Plan (TNTDP) all newly developed areas must work within a framework of sustainable ecological conservation. This is to, not only preserve what already exists, but to create environs that can continue to thrive and naturally evolve. Green management protocols will encourage the expansion of flora and fauna across the region, a reduction in energy consumption through modern, efficient transport modes, greater use of environmentally friendly materials in construction projects, above and below ground, are all being utilized.
With all the involved agencies being in concord, the Thai Riviera will become the kingdom’s most desirable visitor location with the lowest of all carbon footprints. Luxury, modernity and sustainable natural beauty will walk in perfect step together into a future that sets new standards. The Riviera will excite, enlighten, pamper, incite fun and adventure whilst preserving from us all the morality that the environment demands.
A Healthy Thai Riviera
Through education and our modern-day expansive media network, people are now far more aware of the health of our environment, they are also more aware of their own personal health. With this in mind, the TRMP have aimed the Riviera at becoming a “Global Health Tourism Hub”. This will go much further than simply offering tourism in a healthy environment.
From Cha Am to Chumphon there are already many great projects in place that promote a healthy lifestyle and personal wellbeing. Healthy eating is promoted by employing the wonderful local produce and the daily, plentiful, fresh bounty that is harvested from local waters. Visitors can attend demonstrations and classes on how to convert these natural treasures into deliciously healthy comestibles.
How better for a visitor to explore the area, maintain their health and show their green credentials, than by a bicycle adventure. There are already extensive bicycle trails that crisscross the area, taking in the local natural beauty. Cycling is the perfect way to explore the towns and villages, meet the locals and understand their culture and traditions. The TRMP includes details to expand these trails all across the new Riviera. This will allow cyclists to go further and to experience camping in the region’s interior.
Hiking is also, already, very popular throughout the region. Mapping is underway to create more spectacular trails for hikers to explore the forests with their incredible flora and fauna, in particular the diverse bird life unique to the area. Hikers can explore the incredible caves and breathtaking waterfalls enabling them to be engulfed in nature’s awe.
The promotion of healthy activities goes yet further. Major sporting events are planned for the area, with golf and tennis being high on the list. Major spectator events will be attracted to the region by offering modern, state of the art facilities within an environment conducive to health and fitness. But these facilities will not be for the exclusive use by professional athletes. Each and every sporting provision will be open and available and promoted for use by locals and visitors alike.
The Thai Riviera’s Marina Scene
Given that the region is a riviera, it would be rather remiss of the TRMP to omit encouraging marine activities. Indeed, the waterfront will play a major part in the promotion of healthy outdoor activities. Sailing, kayaking and sea fishing are perfect ways in which to embrace the healthy, invigorating sea air, and with equipment and expertise to be available all along the riviera, everyone will be able to enjoy all the sea has to offer.
Although waterborne activities are to be actively promoted, there are to be some curbs put in place. Any coastal activity that has a detrimental effect to the marine ecosystem, or which disturbs the tranquil ambience and visitor experience will not be part of the master plan in creating the riviera.
To accommodate activities on the water, marinas will be required. Investment is planned for existing marina facilities, but it will be the new, modern marinas that will excite new investors to the region. New marina developments with modern, localized infrastructure and residential accommodation, built with sympathetic respect for the environment are planned for Cha Am and Chumphon. This area of the new Thai Riviera will lean heavily towards a marina style of living, with regulated, low rise, quality residential units.
Perhaps the most unique of these developments is already underway, the Grand Marina at Pranburi. To a backdrop of lush greenery, this is a development of luxury low-rise units which will soon be able to welcome its first residents. It has been planned with onsite retail and leisure facilities designed to enhance the life quality of permanent and holidaying residents. If this was not enough, the site has its own private marina which accesses the open sea via a private canal.
The development’s beach, marina and residential units have been designed to exist in total synthesis with its natural surroundings. It is ecofriendly with a low carbon footprint, and is a small, intimate development with fixed boundaries. Attractive to foreign investors is the knowledge that it will not see the site grow and expand into a monstrous development where it would lose its exclusive and intimate feel.
There has never been a better time to invest in Thai property, and, at this time, Pranburi seems to stand head and shoulders above the rest. This Pranburi site will be one that will see investors reap top end rewards in terms of capital growth, and or, rental returns. These financial incentives can be further increased by agreeing a purchase off plan, as this development is still offering significant discounts.