Video: See the floating football pitch that is keeping a Thai island afloat

Local residents say that the floating football pitch has ensured local businesses and restaurants are thriving

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The Independent Online

The southern Thai island of Koh Panyee might be known for its dramatic landscapes, jutting cliff faces and beautiful blue waters, but there is another thing that is attracting tourists to this picturesque island; its floating football pitch.

The floating pitch was created in its current form in 2010 and has been a major draw for tourists coming to the island ever since, helping to negate the events that have had a negative impact on Thailand’s tourism industry over the past twelve months.

Despite the current military Junta’s efforts to boost tourism to the country, events such as the military coup and the murder of the two British tourists, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have seen the number of people visiting Thailand drop in recent times.

Nevertheless, according to residents on the island, the negative impact of these events on tourism to Koh Panyee hasve been softened because of their famous floating football pitch. The pitch was created as part of an advertising campaign by a Thai bank in 2010 and has become a major draw for the island in attracting people to Koh Panyee, and keeping young people on the island, ever since.

Local restaurants and businesses have said that the economic impact of the pitch has been vast and this has allowed business to thrive.

Local stall owner, Apom Janchulee, said: “The jobs here are now better than those on the mainland; the young can find money easier here.”

According, to Janchulee those on the island can earn thousands of Baht every day transporting tourists in canoes, massive when you consider the average wage for a person in Thailand is just over 400 baht a day.

So great has the financial impact been that it has supported an influx of Thai people coming to live on the island.

In the past ten years, the population of the island has increased by a third and this has led to the number of houses on the island increasing too.

Chief of Koh Panyee, Muhammad Prasanpan, was positive abou the impact the floating pitch was having on the community and hoped it could become a feature of the island for decades to come.

He said: “I think we need to keep the football pitch for our children and grandchildren, because we can say the floating football pitch is unique to the village.”

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