by Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Thai authorities are eyeing a Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint in the lower central part of the country as another Thai tourist attraction.
Named Daan Singkhorn, the Thai-Myanmar border checkpoint in Prachuab Kirikhan province could be developed into a new tourist attraction for both Thai and foreign visitors, said Provincial Governor Veera Sriwattanatrakul in an interview with Xinhua on Monday.
The border checkpoint, located at the western end of a 12- kilometer strip between the Thai shoreline straddling the Gulf of Thailand and Myanmar's mountainous Tanintharyi region, has the potentials of being another tourist spot and at the same time serve as the gateway to southern Myanmar, according to Veera.
Western Thailand and southern Myanmar are divided by Tenasserim mountain range from up north in Mae Hongson province to down south along Malaya peninsula passing Daan Singkhorn.
"The authorities, including those of the National Security Council and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, should promote Daan Singkhorn border checkpoint as a permanent trading and tourist spot linking Thailand and Myanmar," Veera said.
"Up to five million Thai and foreign tourists are expected to visit Daan Singkhorn border checkpoint on their way to the interior of Myanmar in a year," Veera said.
Veera also called on the Thai authorities in Bangkok to resolve the dispute over the border demarcation line between the two Southeast Asian states as soon as possible. He said the ruling junta in Thailand should take steps to reach compromise on the dispute with the present government in Naypyidaw which is also headed by a former general.
A new Myanmar government could change the country's foreign policy after a nationwide election scheduled later this year but Thai authorities should start opening talks with their counterparts in Myanmar regarding the proposal, Veera said.
According to Veera, while Hua Hin, a major beach resort city north of Prachuab Kirikhan, is viewed as the gateway to southern Thailand, Daan Singkhorn should likewise be deemed as the gateway to Myanmar's Mergui archipelago in the Andaman Sea.
Veera said the border checkpoint, only about 300 kilometers south of the Thai capital, should be developed into a permanent tourist spot through the construction of more infrastructure projects and tourism-related facilities.
Prachuab Kirikhan province, including Hua Hin, could earn some 1.2 billion U.S. dollars every year in revenues from local and foreign tourists that would visit the proposed tourism site, the provincial governor said.
He said some investors have already bought lands in Prachuab Kirikhan to be used for the construction of tourism-related projects. These investors have envisioned that businesses in the area would flourish with the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of this year.
"Tourism-related businesses are expected to sprout throughout the province, especially in urban areas leading to Daan Singkhorn, if the border checkpoint would eventually be opened as the gateway to Mergui and other parts of southern Myanmar," Veera said.
Presently hotels and guesthouses in Hua Hin and Prachuab Kirikhan have only a combined 20,000 rooms available for visitors and more should be built to accommodate those who may plan to visit southern Myanmar via Daan Singkhorn, he said.
Veera said foreign travelers may visit Daan Singkhorn and then proceed across the border to Mergui archipelago instead of coming from inside Myanmar.
Thailand's Mae Sot in Tak province currently deals in cross- border trade and tourism with Myanmar's Myawaddy town across Moei River up north from Prachuab Kirikhan province.