Ranong, 16 March, 2016 – Ranong’s local hospitality business and the medical and tourism stakeholders recently convened in a seminar aimed at giving a boost to Thailand’s medical tourism sector and to help increase cross border trade by leveraging on the province’s natural beauty and health-giving hot springs and its long border with Myanmar.
Called “Ranong as a Medical Tourism City: Thailand’s Advantage in Border Trade,” the seminar was co-hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Chumphon and Ranong Office, the Ranong Provincial Administration, Ranong’s Commerce Office, and MBK Group’s Tinidee at Ranong Hotel. The meeting took place at Tinidee at Ranong Hotel on 12 March, 2016.
Ms. Wiriya Kaenkaew, Director of TAT Chumphon and Ranong Office said, “Ranong is a stunning lush province that has great tourism potential, due to its natural beauty and health-giving Thai-style onsen in hot springs that have been ranked as the third best in the world. There are many stunning valleys, beaches, and islands as well as some of Thailand’s best dive sites. The province also shares a long land and sea border with Myanmar making it the perfect place for cross-border and marine logistics, trade and tourism as Myanmar opens up and the AEC brings us ever closer together.”
Ranong’s geographical position means it could become an important gateway to Myanmar. In 2015 cross border trade was worth 21 billion Baht. Of the total, 19 billion Baht came from Thai exports with 2 billion Baht arriving from Myanmar. This represents a 10 per cent increase on 2014. A deep sea port in Ranong also helps with marine logistics in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) region that covers Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
The seminar discussed how Ranong’s natural advantages and geographical position made it ideal for eco and medical tourism and as a gateway for goods and traffic from Myanmar. Investors from both countries are looking to develop the hospitality industry in the area to the benefit of both Thailand and Myanmar. Last year the overall number of tourists visiting Ranong was 789,666, up 8.22 per cent from 2014 level, generating about 10 billion Baht to the province’s economy. Some 70 per cent of the visitors were domestic with the remainder mostly coming from Europe, such as, Germany and the UK. Many of these tourists travel on to Ko Song in Myanmar.
The meeting highlighted the untouched nature of Ranong which makes it an ideal venue to attract tourists who might visit for health oriented holidays or to take advantage of the region’s natural hot springs which offer health boosting benefits such as pain and stress release and improved blood circulation. The springs at Rakswarin are said to be among the best in the world. Furthermore, Ranong boasts a variety of lush, natural attractions, such as, marine hotspots, historic landmarks, and great places for eco-tourism, including a biosphere reserve and hot geysers.
Ranong’s tourism potential is increasingly recognised by local and international investors and hospitality business developers, including Thailand-based MBK Group that opened the 138-room Tinidee at Ranong Hotel in 2008 aimed at catering for the needs of medical tourists, providing hot mineral water pools in every room along with shared mineral water and swimming pools. The group is now planning to add new facility to the hotel, as well as looking at opening a new property.
Ms. Arthorn Vanasantakul, MBK Hotel and Tourism’s DMD Finance and Administration said, “To ensure that we are meeting customer requirements and well-equipped to handle more health-oriented lifestyle interests, we are now preparing to launch a full wellness spa service at our existing Tinidee at Ranong hotel. In addition, we are looking at developing a new hotel on Phayam Island.”
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