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Friday, April 6, 2012

'Penang has potential to become boating hub'

GEORGE TOWN: Phuket-based entreprenuer and boating enthusiast Kanit Yongsakul is bullish over Penang's potential in turning into a marine playground, if sufficient international-class marinas are available in the island state.

The developer of two marinas in Thailand - one in Phuket and the other in Krabi - said Penang has all the right attributes of becoming a port of choice for the well-heeled boating crowd.

"I see no reason why new yachts which are built in England need to be uploaded in Singapore before heading for Phuket, instead of Penang where you have a deep seaport and the potential to create many jobs for the marine industry," he told Business Times on Wednesday.

Khanit, who has been a leading figure in Phuket's marine industry for almost two decades and the developer of the island's first marina in the early 1990s, is no stranger to Penang where he sails regularly.

Singling out attributes such as good food, a multi-cultural population and George Town's Unesco listing status, Khanit said Penang can do with at least two more marinas on the island's southern and northern parts.

"This will ensure there is no competition between the developers of marinas and plenty of new jobs can be created, while the island's population can be spread out," he added.

The island is now home to two fully-operating marinas at Straits Quay in Seri Tanjung Pinang and one operated by the Marine Police Department at Batu Uban.

Kanit, who is the founder of the Phuket Boat Lagoon, said some issues in Penang marinas need to be addressed if the authorities are serious about raising the island's profile as a boating spot.

"There is currently a shortage of fuelling facilities along with suitable and accessible local food outlets for the crew of the boats berthing here.

"There is also a need for safe anchorage and good road accessibility to marinas."

The civil and mining engineer, who built Phuket's first marina with 80 berths, suggested that incentives such tax holidays be given to developers of marinas here.

By Business Times

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