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Officials with military and police order tourists to surrender their umbrella

Angry Confrontation as Council at Phuket Beach Seizes Tourists' Umbrellas: Photo Special

Friday, November 28, 2014
PHUKET: Tourists had their personal beach umbrellas seized at Surin beach today - despite even the Royal Thai Navy Commander on Phuket acknowledging that it's legal and there's no problem with them.

At least three couples had brollies confiscated. One woman objected, and stormed off when told she had to surrender her umbrella, saying: ''I'm never coming back here again.''

The seizure of personal umbrellas is the final farcical step to Phuket's shambolic approach to clearing the beaches - and now proposing at Patong and Kamala to restore all the clutter and chaos as soon as possible.

Cherng Talay Mayor M-Ann Samran, who oversees Surin beach, said today he ordered the seizure of tourists' personal umbrellas because he was concerned too many of them could soon become a problem.

But Phuketwan has carefully researched the newly imposed regulations governing the beaches and found nothing that prohibits tourists from bringing their personal umbrellas.

Until today, the personal beach umbrellas that dotted many of Phuket's popular west coast beaches were a sign of sanity prevailing among the confused local councils that look after Phuket's beaches - yet permitted the public sands to be covered in rows and rows of sunbeds that were against the law.

At Surin today, apparently there was a move by Mayor Ma-Ann's council against vendors who had been renting out the smaller umbrellas.

But having allowed the problem to grow without taking action, the council officers in their eventual crackdown also confiscated umbrellas from tourists who had brought their own brollies.

This afternoon, it became obvious as Phuketwan has been proposing for years that Phuket needs a Phuket Beach Authority to oversee all of the beaches and remove them from the control of the blundering councils.

Earlier in the afternoon, vendors from the beach had met with council officers, seeking answers to some of their questions about their futures.

The Commander of Royal Thai Navy 3, Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsomret, who met with mayors, district chiefs and other administrators just yesterday, said this afternoon: ''The issue of beach chairs, umbrellas, masseuses and vendors: a solution is coming from the Phuket Provincial Administration and local councils.

''They have to make sure the same standards apply at all beaches. I have pushed this issue before the governor and the mayors already.''

The governor is on a visit to China and no vice governors were available to attend yesterday's meeting.

See What Happened at Surin?


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Today the army did remove umbrellas and chairs from Surin Beach . we do not understand anything anymore . we go away from thailand. General Navy say tourist ok the mayor say no.
Crazy country

Posted by Augusto on November 28, 2014 15:17


I was about to scream bloody hell, but then I read that locals are hiring out umbrellas, I guess this is the start and then once allowed they will start renting out loungers from off the beach and it will return to the old Status Quo. I'm not much of a beach person, but would not have room for an umbrella in my suitcase and would not buy one. As long as they start planting trees to give shade, or do as as they to here in Mozambique for the cruise liner customers, they have a simple structure with Shade cloth on, that one can go lie under if you want shade, and it's far back from the shore line at the back of the beach, leaving all the sands open for towels, or a bit of volleyball or anything else people get up to.

Posted by Gregg P Cornell on November 28, 2014 15:33


It is crystal clear that these local councils are making this nonsensical interpretation because they are losing millions of baht since the army has put a stop to their illegal renting of public space in hopes they can get the ban overturned. Keep trying local officials, we arent that stupid.

Posted by Anon on November 28, 2014 15:34


It looks to me that the local authorities forbid the personal umbrellas so that the occupation of quasi permanent plastic beds and large umbrellas can return and generate money as it did. This is such a shame, most residents, Thai or foreign, and most tourists prefer the natural look of the beaches. Make polls and you will see. I agree with PW on this, it is the army that should be definitely responsible for handling these issues, not elected local authorities. And personal umbrellas , towels and fabric folding chairs should be allowed of course. Is it so difficult to see how some of the remaining natural beaches are successfully managed overseas ?

Posted by beach and trees to the public on November 28, 2014 15:50


The seizure of PERSONAL umbrellas by thai government 'workers' is just unlawful STEELING! NCPO, where are you to clear this chaotic Phuket? This news goes all over the world now. Why thai work so hard to make to loose their face?

Posted by Kurt on November 28, 2014 16:10


Umbrellas for rent should be allowed off the beaches and carried from there to the sand, - and brought back -. Simple.

Posted by off the sand and back on November 28, 2014 16:11


The final nail in the coffin, well done Mayor M-Ann Samran, you've just killed Surin's tourist industry.

Posted by phuket madness on November 28, 2014 16:15


This is crazy ! In Thailand the left hand not knows what the right hand do.
The all over "Beach Situation" is madness. Jet Skis back is a Joke and shows who really rules the beach. For me and my family it is over. Never again. Sick of getting ripped off when using a Taxi or Tuk Tuk. After 15 Years visiting Thailand every year,it is time to move on. Not that we planned to do so but Thailand pushed us (and many others) to do this decision.
We count our self as the so highly sought after "quality tourists", Family with Children, Grandma and Grandpa with us too. Paying a lot for quality rooms, spending much on dining, shopping, tours and the beach. It is our holiday and we work hard for it. First the invasion by chinese and russian zero baht tourists with all the negative effects for "money spending" ones and now we have to fight over our own beach umbrella ?
Forget it. There are countries that welcomes us as much as our money and treat us in a way that guarantees our return for the following year (as Thailand did long time ago).
Get rid of these damned Jet Skis. Bring the beach under Control ! with or without umbrellas but in a way that goes along with regulations. Fix the transportation system ( working Meters or fixed hop on rates ).....and we might come back. Right now, we not feel safe, not feel welcome and certainly not got the feeling that we get what we paid for.
It's a shame. Phukets Beaches could easily, with proper control, THE world class beach holiday destination.
What they are right now ? a messed up Joke controlled by pure greed!

Posted by Oliver on November 28, 2014 16:18


One more week and the plastic will be back , All those locals just cannot wait . I will never go back to Surin when the chairs are back it is perfect now .

Posted by tony Kenny on November 28, 2014 16:24


What a total joke, I wonder what they would have done if it was raining? I guess a normal rain umbrella is not allowed? The whole world is on about melanoma and protection from sunburn, not here though, no umbrellas and burn away, this country has lost the plot.

Posted by coxo on November 28, 2014 16:25


Truly Amazing Thailand, Thai Tourism Authority should not have changed their marketing tag line.
For Phuket maybe its dumb and dumber.

Posted by wm on November 28, 2014 16:32


O... M... G. This is really sad for Phuket. I'm beginning to think progress will require the total sacking of all local-level officialdom until the top-tier (probably in BKK) make the decision and then employ NEW staff to follow those rules. There is too much history that I feel the current crop of personnel can never get over. PW's island-wide single Beach Authority is a great idea, but only if they are NEW people who have clear rules to follow/ implement and they have no power in decision-making. That way there is nothing to interpret and nobody to favour.


Posted by Duncan on November 28, 2014 16:42


I believe the PG reported that the Navy commander said that personal umbrellas were allowed.

IT seems that the NCPO need to take over the island from these incompetent
public officials who clearly are making Phuket the laughing stock of the world.

Posted by Ciaran on November 28, 2014 16:45

Editor Comment:

How ironic that the PG, which for weeks has been reporting that the personal umbrellas are ''banned,'' chose today to report that the Navy Commander said they were OK. Wrong again.


What's happens on this island? What's the next? You can not bring your own food and drink's because the resturant is not there anymore? Maybe a tax for swimming or get a tan?

Posted by Retired Roadworker on November 28, 2014 16:47


For those who used to benefit financially from the umbrella and lounge rental on public beaches a tourist with his own umbrella is a threat of the highest order.

If tourists realize they can just buy their own for the price of 2 day rental, those vendors will become obsolete. Imagine if they even thought of donating their umbrellas upon departure to incoming tourists.

This action that redefines the word insanity was preceded by a meeting between the vendors and council officers.

They obviously decided in their infinite wisdom that personal umbrellas must go and an example made to discourage others. Regardless of the consequences.

Job well done. Now sit back, follow the international headlines and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I just wonder how far this farce is allowed to go until someone with even a hint of common sense and broader perspective steps in.

However, in the meantime I will just lay back and enjoy the show. You could not make this up.

Who knows, it might even be worth going to the beach with an umbrella and record it all for everyone to enjoy on YouTube.

One thing puzzles me though and I'd like to ask the Mayor - was this part of the "Return Happiness to the people" or the " Restore tourist confidence" campaign ?

Posted by Herbert on November 28, 2014 17:07


Mr Oliver, I agree 100% with you. Specially about that class beach destination.. However, the thai live with greed, and beside that, they live in a air tight bulb. Thai have no idea how things are outside Thailand. These in power on Phuket only think about money.

Posted by Kurt on November 28, 2014 17:07


Poorly trained civil servants are cutting off their right hand with their left hand...

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 28, 2014 17:12


Cherng Talay Mayor shows this moment he has more power and is stronger than the Phuket Navy Admiral as he ignores the Admiral and continues to handle his own business. How is this possible, Sir, Admiral?

Posted by Kurt on November 28, 2014 17:14


I just sent a link to this story to every major news outlet in my country. Hopefully it will go viral and put a huge egg on the face of those behind this lunatic action.

Posted by Herbert on November 28, 2014 17:39


Today I was ordered to take off my umbrella and my little chair from Surin Beach. The order was given to me by a person in civilian clothes accompanied by men of the Military Police armed with machine guns. I have performed the order immediately, because I think that I must respect the law of Thailand, the country that hosts me kindly. But this is not the way to welcome tourists who come from countries free and liberals. Finally I have not yet figured out who's in charge in Thailand if the government, governors, mayors, the military, the police? Now seriously think of leaving Thailand and try other country where you can enjoy the sea and the sun without restrictions and continuous conflicting orders of unwritten laws and change from day to day by officials and politicians incapable of administering a wonderful country like Thailand.

Posted by spintrie on November 28, 2014 18:03


I will come to Phuket for 2 months next January, like I did for many years. If private umbrellas will not be allowed in front of the hotel, it will be the last time. What about all the people getting awful sunburns because umbrellas are not allowed? Will the Mayor pay for hospital care?

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2014 18:20


It's Obvious that nobody has any understanding of what farang want on the beaches. It's also clear that hardly ant Thai ever saw beaches in any other country- civilized or not.
Do people reallt think this sort of nonsense will not be all over the internet? Seriously hurting tourism, not only to Phuket, but to all Thailand.
Anyone been to Pattaya lately? Seen all the sunbeds and umbrella's there?
Phuket and those incapable people "in power" will soon be the laughing stock of the world. Pityful.

Posted by RGB on November 28, 2014 18:23


Can I wear a very large hat?

Posted by Smithy on November 28, 2014 18:26


Only if you don't look Polish and bring the purchase receipt

Posted by Manowar on November 28, 2014 18:32


Dear Thailand,
Thank you for the tourists.

Love and kisses,

Posted by DTG on November 28, 2014 18:44


Alan, why was my previous comment not printed.

Posted by Feisty Farang on November 28, 2014 19:23

Editor Comment:

This is the first and only comment from this email address. You have made no previous comment.


Guess I'll just go lie in the shade of a jetski then. Hope I don't cause any damage!

Posted by Lana on November 28, 2014 19:28


Too many Mayors too many Governors all on a different page.
One voice one law for everyone not various interpretations.

Posted by slickmelb on November 28, 2014 19:49


Ok. That's it. Me, and a lot of other Swedish Tourists, will choose other destinations. The "Phuket story" is allready in the news over here, and wait for the outcry of dissapointed Tourists, many times familys who had to save up for there dream holliday, when they return after their vacation, after they find out not being able to spend time on the beach. Time on the beach protected from the sun. Well many with me will choose other destinations in the future. Let??s hope that the so called high end Tourists Phuket wants can fill the rooms that we ordinary Scandinavians will leave empty in the future. If anyone ask me, my reply will be to go elswhere, Phuket is Dirty, you get rippet off and you can't bring your own stuff to the beach. Swede from Malmo signing off. I will not even bother to comment here anymore, and soon not even Reading PW, because i will take my Little Money elswhere.

Posted by Swede from Malmo on November 28, 2014 20:00

Editor Comment:

Many Swedes moved to Phang Nga and Krabi years ago, because they enjoyed natural beauty and were offended by sunbeds and jet-skis on Phuket.


Well, I've already bought a ticket to Thailand for next april and as like so many years, i am looking forward to go there. But if this silly behavior is still alive next spring, then either Kosa Mui or even Sihanoukville are not so far from Bangkok too. It's sad to see how this wonderful place is turning into such a banana republic

Posted by fred on November 28, 2014 20:11


Complete lost commonsense, bye bye Phuket,

Posted by charles on November 28, 2014 21:09


So Mayor Ma-ann , the person who oversaw Surin Beach as the numbers of umbrellas mushroomed to many hundreds , is now ordering the confiscation of tourist owned umbrellas when they have barely reached 20? Why is that? Has he a vested interest in seeing mayhem on the beaches so he can claim a 'need' to return to the previous status quo?
The new move by tourists making their own solutions for their beach comfort may well be perceived as a serious threat by those who previously profited from those services.

Posted by Chob on November 28, 2014 22:00


Tick-Tock Thailand. Another nail hammered firmly in the tourist coffin. Bye bye tourists!

Posted by Anonymous on November 28, 2014 22:04


already decided to cut short my time here...all insane and on top of it a 500BT fine for riding motorbike without motocyle stamp on my Canadian DL...localtourist police helping herd fine payers as locals roll on through. I am done here.Been coming here for 10years..feel sorry for theThai people

Posted by WorldTravelor on November 28, 2014 22:08


will they be banning sun screen lotion soon also?

Posted by mike on November 28, 2014 22:32


I wonder if this is what TAT meant when they said tourists should come and experience Marshall Law first hand.

In my over 10 years I have seen a lot of belief defying acts of stupidity but this excels on so many levels that I'm willing to declare this the all time Top 1 on my list.

Imagine if the writers of Tonight Show or SNL get hold of this story. They can milk it for weeks.

Posted by Herbert on November 28, 2014 22:45


50 umbrellas belonging to vendors along Kamala Beach today, including 20 within sight of the Cop shop - what a joke.

Posted by Mister Ree on November 28, 2014 22:52


What is it to be?? You can you can't bring umbrellas? Make your mind up officials I'm starting to loose respect and your starting to look stupid.

Posted by piny on November 28, 2014 23:25


Well written comment Mr. Oliver!

I know a lots of people that are saying the same as you.

Today pure insanity and pure greed showed its dirtiest face on Phuket...

Posted by PhuketFriendly on November 29, 2014 00:19


The sheer stupidity of this is being broadcast around the world and Phuket is a laughing stock. I have booked to come back in March/April which will be my 35th trip to Thailand and the last. Can the officials not see the massive damage they are doing to the Phuket brand name. My friends from Europe refuse to come to Phuket and in future we WILL be going to Vietnam. So very sad.

Posted by Mal on November 29, 2014 01:28


At first I was annoyed, then confused, now I'm just amused and curious. I love Thailand and all of her bizarre contradictions.

Posted by pete59 on November 29, 2014 06:40


The fact is that for years tourists have been attracted to Thailand for its beauty, liaise faire attitude to most things, great food, a relatively inexpensive vacation and for the most part happy smiling, helpful welcoming people.
Most tourists do not care about politics as long as they do not affect an enjoyable vacation experience.
When that ceases to be the case; inevitably tourists and their holiday money will go elsewhere.
Come on Thailand wake up! You are killing the golden goose!

Posted by david on November 29, 2014 08:34


"feel sorry for the Thai people"

Who exactly do you mean? And why?

They are the only ones who have the power to change something.

Unfortunately they know only little about this fact.

Posted by Georg The Viking on November 29, 2014 08:49


once the tourists move on to less restrictive locations; Thailand will not be able to put the 'toothpaste back in the tube'

Posted by david on November 29, 2014 08:52


Vietnam is so far better, open and tourist friendly...

Posted by Majestic on November 29, 2014 09:31


Ed can if inform me if im required to pay to park my car at Patong Beach. A lady in government uniform with embellishments who was later serving drinks out of an esky demanded that i pay 20 baht for parking on the beach road opposite Patong Tower near the toilet block..

Posted by Anonymous on November 29, 2014 11:31

Editor Comment:

Sure. Standard procedure to have to pay, unless you are a jet-ski operator. PW parked there recently and was charged, despite making the point that the reporter was a Beach Games volunteer. The man who pulled up alongside said he operated a jet-ski and parked for free.


Does the ownership of the umbrella matter, if a tourist brings one to the beach for his/her own use?

Posted by Sherlock on November 29, 2014 12:22

Editor Comment:

As long as it's not bought or rented on the beach, no problems . . . in theory.


Amazing Thailand!

I hear the place to go if you want protection from the sun while on the beach is Koh Samui. Business as usual over there. You can even get food and drinks while on the beach there.

Vietnam is looking good as well. A friend is there right now and says it is cheaper than Thailand and the people very welcoming.

Posted by BigP on November 29, 2014 12:24


Today at Nai Harn nearly everbody had their own umbrella.

Posted by stevenl on November 29, 2014 13:13

Editor Comment:

Different mayor. Different approach.


how many laws has the thailand ? control the mayors or the army ?

Posted by Luigi on November 29, 2014 14:33


Swede from Malmo

Ed is exactly right. Khao Lak and Aonang, and to a lesser extent Trang and Koh Lanta is now where Swedish tourists go. One major difference compared to Phuket? Those places have a ban in place against sunbeds and jetskis...What does that tell you?

Posted by christian on November 29, 2014 14:34


Tik-Tok-Tik-Tok-Tik-Tok..... another nail in the coffin of phuket's tourism.

I see very little hope for change before self-destruction because of greed.

Posted by Mr. K on November 29, 2014 16:35


Would it not be easier for the Phuket umbrella police (assisted by Farang tourist police) to go to all the shops around Phuket's beaches selling these illegal instruments of shade and confiscate them, then publicly destroy them with a diesel roller with photo ops for newspapers and TV to report the event?

Posted by Jimmy Rawai on November 29, 2014 17:02


Did the Mayor have training in how to kill tourism in Phuket?

Posted by Mr Wolf on November 29, 2014 17:19


Interesting that a number of readers have mentioned Vietnam. Friend of mine who has lived here for nearly 20 years has just come back after a month long stay.

He's now given notice to his landlord and he's moving there. I'm going with him to see what it's like and after 11 years I won't be sad about leaving if Vietnam is better.

The Thai authorities need to learn that people generally have a choice. Also it's never the authorities who truly hold the power ... it's always the people and simply leaving without fanfare or protest is the solution to bringing about positive change.

Vietnam is now also opening up to foreigners by making it easier to live, own property and do business.

Thailand really needs to step back and smell the roses before it's too late.

Posted by Graham on November 29, 2014 19:55


Guess who the teacher of the mayor was Mr Wolf (it is a farang from downunder:-) )

Posted by Cecil on November 29, 2014 22:17

Editor Comment:

Cecil, as you should know, making fun of names is foolish and serves no useful purpose.


I went to the beach today with my family. In strict compliance with the latest local authorities' diktats we left our umbrellas at home. It pissed down and the kids couldn't understand why we could not be protected from the rain. Indeed, why not?

Posted by Sam Wilko on November 30, 2014 14:59

Editor Comment:

There is no ban on taking an umbrella.


@Chalongresident .... well, they do not live here like myself so are only seeing it as a fun holiday destination...and yes, the touts etc etc area all part of that fun... I run a retired vets club back in Sydney when I am back home and have a pretty wide and diverse range of friends.

Posted by Tys on December 2, 2014 05:09


This is cool.....As myself and my thai & Myanmar friends all missed out on a surf season because of the "cleaning" of the beaches,our hopes of things returning to normal next year have been raised....bring back surfboard hire please....

Posted by Surf Starved Katoey on December 3, 2014 08:07


And the jet ski's continue

Posted by Paul on December 4, 2014 12:54


Funny to see how the military invaded Nai Yang again fully armed to tear the Beach Club down and people sitting on plastic chairs to watch it on the beach. And on top of it the beach vendors do their business there despite the presence of the army and police.

Posted by Sascha on December 8, 2014 11:46

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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