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The site of part of the Club Med wall for its expansion along Kata beach

Club Med Stirs Phuket Anger over Beach Walls

Friday, April 9, 2010
ONE of Phuket's best-known tourism resort pioneers, Club Med, is embroiled in a beachfront mangrove forest dispute that has alienated local villagers and even disturbed some of the resort's own guests.

Amid today's protest, it emerged that the popular international brand not only controls most of the land along Kata beach, but also wants to create a walled extension into what has until now been a local forest and parkland.

The Karon tessaban council rents this ''public park'' from the owner of the Club Med site. Even the public toilet block is on Club Med-linked land.

The owner of the Club Med land also owns part of the land at the southern end of the beach on which the new Karon tessaban offices have been built.

Locals turned out today to put up banners at the northern end of Kata, near the newly-created iron supports for foundation posts for a beachfront wall where there was once a public sala and forest parkland.

The 6.5 rai area would be surrounded by a 1.5 metre fence, which would run along 200 metres fronting the sand.

The wall will lock out locals from land they have been using for decades, and reduce access to a canal that runs through Club Med land, from where locals launch their longtail boats.

The owners of 38 longtails were among those who protested today at the site. Club Med guest Mona Davidsen, 56, from Norway, was with her husband and another couple at the demonstration.

She said she had been to Phuket 14 times in the past 10 years and could see a big difference in Phuket from a decade ago. ''Why don't people think about taking care of the environment, rather than building more walls?

''We come back because Phuket is still beautiful. We don't come here for the buildings. We want to get away from them.''

Local longtail owner Pradit Thammawattana, 53, said he had lived in Kata for 50 years. The long beachfront wall would mean that if a second tsunami came, people would be forced to run to either end rather than through the parkland.

Club Med spokesperson Vijit Dasantad, who is the local authority coordinator, said the resort rented the land and wanted to make it plain by erecting the walls that it was their property. Permission had not been granted yet for construction of the walls, he said.

Karon council had asked Club Med to put at least four openings in the beachside frontage of the wall, and to reduce its height from 1.75 metres to 1.5 metres. Mangroves line the rear of the proposed construction zone.

Locals say that when the canal floods, the overspill goes into the mangroves that would be cut by the wall. The longtail owners would no longer have access to the site where they traditionally repaired and maintained their vessels, they said.

Club Med opened in 1982 and is credited with being the first major resort on Phuket.
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Comments

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Before the tsunami this land was Club Med's sailing club and locals were not allowed in there. As usual Club Med owns the land but the local thugs want it back. If it was Kata Beach Resort or Kata Thani, nothing would be said.

Posted by lordjim on April 9, 2010 15:30

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I have been walking along Kata Beach for many years and the long tail boats have always used the Club Med land to work on their boats this problem should have been addressed years ago everyone including the boat owners have known it was Club Med land both Club Med and the boat owners should have resolved this years ago.

Just because Club Med looked the other way for years doesn't give the boat owners the right to protest Club Med's wall. It's their land; However, there should be land set aside at every beach for the local boat owners but that is the job of the Government and they should fix this issue not just in Kata but along every beach.

South Patong will be the next and even bigger problem.

Posted by mike on April 9, 2010 15:42

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Not sure about the law in Thailand, but perhaps the fishermen have a good argument that they have an easement to that part of Club Med's land?

Posted by SomeGuy on April 10, 2010 00:17

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Do you guys even like Thai people? Have you any appreciation of the culture and the way things operate? What a bunch of BS and what a bunch of culturally insensitive bigots you are.

Posted by Doretta on April 10, 2010 02:33

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Doretta there is a big difference between Thai Culture and "the way things operate" wake up if that's remotely possible.

Posted by mike on April 10, 2010 11:39

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Mike,

I know where I am. I know I am not Thai, yet I love Thailand. Bottom line is; there is no difference between the "culture" and "the way things work." It is the Thai way for now. It will change when the Con Thai are ready for change. Time for you to wake up Dear. It is not your country, no matter how many fat dollars you spend(or whatever currency afforded you to relocate here and feel so superior)

Posted by Doretta on April 10, 2010 14:52

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Doretta, wow jai yen yen na? I suppose you want them to open it up and allow the Tuktuks to park there as that's "thai culture" as well.

Sounds like you have a huge chip or something on your shoulder. It's got nothing to do with culture. If they want to use the land, let them rent it.

You put together an extremely weak argument.

Posted by Tbs on April 10, 2010 17:27

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I have visited Kata many years and I am very surprised that Club Med does not look after its property to a better standard. The wall along the main road that runs from the Taxi station to Kata center, this needs to be painted and the weeds need to be taken away.

This is the first impression that many guests or Kata and it is my opinion that it needs to be looked after. I think its a shame that one solid owner is taking over the beach and boxing in its property.

The space should be open and like some mentioned if yet another Tsunami should take place how terrifying to run from the beach only to find a wall that is so high that you would need a ladder to get over.

Posted by Anna Davies-Hedman on April 10, 2010 20:08

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Hi TBS,

Kow tote ka if my jai rawn offends. I think I do have a teeny (giant) chip on my shoulder. That said, my argument is very strong indeed. It is Thailand. How is a working class Con Thai, say a long-boat fisherman, supposed to rent beach front land that is priceless, and should be public, yet monopolised by a corporate behemoth like Club Med?

Posted by Doretta on April 11, 2010 03:36

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We should all be thankful that Club Med 'owns' this land. If they didn't, it would have gone the way of Patong years ago.

Posted by thankful on April 12, 2010 12:22

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After taking a second look at this article and the facts I find it very one sided and not very accurate. First off, access was limited before the tsunami and it was not "local forest and parkland" as stated in the article. Second, the only people damaging the environment and the mangroves are the boat owners who have moved further south along the property line and cut holes though the brush to park their boats (really there is little in the way of mangroves and an ecosystem left there to save).

The wall would actually help the environment if it forced the boat owners to move further back to the North but for the interest of access and fairness to the boat owners, Club Med should pull its wall back on the far north end 50 meters and let the boats work there and demand they remove all boats from the wooded area as a compromise, as was the practice for the most part before the tsunami.

A little give on both parts and lending a little hand to the environment as well would be a good thing for all. The idea you need more openings in the wall to run away from the next tsunami lacks credibility as well, since you need to run to one end or the other to get to higher ground. To run up the middle in the last tsunami will have just put you right in the heart of the disaster with you stuck in the swamp at the point were the last tsunami was at it's highest and most destructive point. Not a good idea at all.

Editor: Whether a wall is necessary at all is the real issue. Club Med has yet to explain why this part of its property needs to be locked away when the rest of the resort blends in nicely with the Kata foreshore. And there is no road along this stretch. The wall would directly front the beach. We saw that ''forest and parkland'' before the dispute, and that's not an inaccurate description. Phuketwan would be happy to have the opportunity to present Club Med's viewpoint at greater length. We are always keen to present every side of a story. The resort was under-represented at the protest.

Posted by mike on April 29, 2010 09:21


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