Thailand is planning to extend its port facility in Phuket, to be able to accommodate two Super Cruz Liners at the same time. With the island resort of Phuket long established as a popular destination for cruise liners and yachts, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism promised last week to seek cabinet approval to expand the island’s port in order to serve the growing numbers of ships seeking to dock at the “Pearl of the Andaman Sea.” Somsak Pureesrisak, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, said he would push for the government to approve a US$3.3 million expansion of the port facility, and he would first raise the issue with Minister of Transport Chatchart Sithipan. Somsak already has the support of Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Suraphon Svetasreni who accompanied him on an inspection of the facility last week. Phuket’s economy was once based on its vast tin mining industry and the mining of other metals and minerals. Although tourism now dominates the island’s economy, it still has an active rubber-farming industry. Situated off the western coast in the Andaman Sea, Phuket, which is about the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island and was once a major trading center on the route between China and India. As such, the port was originally designed to handle cargo ships. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the island began emerging as one of the most ideal beach vacation destinations in Asia and the Pacific. During the last decade, the steady increase in the numbers of cruise liners and yachts wishing to dock at the port has prompted many calls for it to be expanded. Those working in the travel industry say delays in docking at Phuket because of port congestion are common. The project would extend the dock by 60 yards so two large ships can berth at the same time. New facilities would also be built to receive tourists disembarking and parking lots would be expanded. Port authorities said it would take no more than 13 months to complete the project once it passed environmental impact assessment requirements (Source).