AWC Proposal Overview
Phuket’s tourism and property development sectors have urged Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to consider the Andaman Wellness Economic Corridor (AWC) proposal, which aims to boost wellness-related investments and tourism in the Andaman provinces, including Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Ranong, Trang, and Satun. The AWC proposal was submitted during Prime Minister Srettha’s visit to Phuket and Phangnga in August 2023.
The AWC is intended to help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and generate income in the high-growth potential wellness and medical tourism sector. The proposal outlines different areas of focus for each province:
- Phuket: Center for complex disease treatments, gender affirmation surgeries, spas, international conventions, exhibitions, and a world-class wellness center
- Phangnga: Marine tourist services, Sky Doctor service, claims center for foreign medical expenses, and climate therapy treatment system
- Krabi: Development of Klong Thom Spa
- Trang: Food city hub and wellness destination
- Satun: Long-term residence city
- Ranong: Hot springs and spas for healing purposes
Infrastructure and Development Recommendations
To support the AWC, the government should increase funding for the development of Phuket International Airport to handle the expected influx of international tourists. Additionally, the government should speed up the process of establishing a new airport in Phangnga’s tambon Khok Kloi area, which could serve as an aviation industry hub in the Southeast Asian region.
For attracting more investors and tourists, the government should support Phuket’s Sister City of Investment policy to promote finance and investment in the region and further develop real estate, hospitality, mass transport systems, and digital finance markets. Phuket could cooperate with cities from China, Hong Kong, or Singapore for the development of a cable car project, among other initiatives.
Transit Oriented Development and Land Bridge Project
The Transit Oriented Development and Land Bridge project aims to boost connectivity in the Andaman region by developing a mass transit system and creating new landmarks with new technology. For example, Phuket Old Town in Muang district could develop its mass transit system to cater to visitors, along with creating a shopping zone and port.
Phuket also plans to develop a labor market to serve as a smart city, attracting quality workers from all over the world with digital knowledge and service experience. This could lead to an increase in foreigners buying real estate for long-term stays, stimulating the economy. The government is encouraged to amend the law to allow foreigners to buy real estate.
Special Law for AWC Establishment
Setting up the AWC is not an easy task, but analyst Thanapat Uttawarapong from Andaman City Development suggests that the government should pass a special law to remove legal obstacles. With the special law in place, the AWC project could potentially be established and complete trials within two years.
The private sector fully supports the AWC project and is ready to help push for other development projects, whether related to real estate, hotels, or small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Once the AWC is completed, money from all over the world is expected to flow into Phuket and other Andaman coastal provinces, boosting the economy and people’s income.