Host to the King's Cup Regatta and home to a state-of-the-art marina, Phuket draws some 1,300 yachts every year, ranging from cruising sailors to superyachts measuring from 30 to 100 feet. Given Phuket's popularity, that number is likely to increase and experts surmise that one of the reasons is because Phuket offers great value repair and maintenance services. Now the Industrial Promotion Department and the Thai Shipbuilding Association are looking to take business one step further by drawing foreign shipbuilders to Thailand too.
Thailand has potential to host foreign shipyards in places from Samut Sakhon to Phuket, says Banchong Khunajit, who's on the committee of the Thai Shipbuilding Association. If that happens, we could see up to 5,000 yachts sailing to Thailand every year. With a little help from Ekkamon Hutasingh, the former president of the Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce and now an adviser to his association, Banchong recently invited foreign shipbuilders to gauge Thailand's boatbuilding capacities. He also brought in some investors from Viareggio, a city in northern Italy that's famous for its shipbuilding industry.
Alessandro Vismara who owns VSS Yacht Refit SRL came with his wife, Chiara Benedettini, the editor of Italy's yachting magazine Connessioni. Vismara was impressed with Thailand's facilities and top-quality shipbuilding skills and said he could be interested in building a shipyard here but remains undecided because of the string of tax regulations that include hefty duties for imported ship parts.
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