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Sunbeds return at Phuket's Bang Tao beach:we knew they would

Phuket Beach Policy in Chaos: Resorts Show No Sign of Supporting 10 Percent Zones

Thursday, February 26, 2015
PHUKET: The Governor of Phuket is heading for Bangkok at the weekend and Europe early next week with his plan for 10 percent beach umbrella service zones still being snubbed by almost everyone.

Today at Kata-Karon municipal offices, representatives from about 35 resorts indicated they do not want to be part of the plan.

Most of the resorts have never been willing to warn guests in low season about the deadly rip currents.

It would be a major change in approach if they took up the plea by local authorities to tell tourists that umbrellas and beach chairs are only allowed on 10 percent of Phuket's beaches.

One resort representative asked at today's meeting whether the 10 percent was measured on a wild day at high tide or on a tranquil day at low tide.

The question revealed the underlying cynicism about Governor Nisit Jansomwong's plan to keep all the clutter of umbrellas and beach chairs contained in regimented portions of Phuket's beaches.

The truth is, tourists who visit beaches and the equipment hirers who were supposed to be banished forever by the military clearances last year don't like regimentation.

The governor's idea has little hope of working because nobody wants to enforce it.

The only organisation capable of making sure regulations are followed and properly protecting Phuket's beaches is the Royal Thai Navy.

Senior officers clearly believe the local councils and police, who have tended to avoid overseeing Phuket's beaches for decades, now need to step up.

They aren't at all keen. Nor are the resorts.

The suggestion today that because resorts benefitted from the appeal of Phuket's beaches, they should each provide a staffer to oversee guests' beach protection and services was greeted with a silence that speaks volumes.

Resorts traditionally take responsibility for what occurs on their premises but no responsibility for anything that happens beyond it.

Drownings? No, very few of them warn guests about rip currents.

Motorcycle crashes? We don't know of a single resort that sees it as a responsibility to warn guests about the danger of hiring motorcycles.

Today's meeting was another powerful persuader that Phuket authorities know nothing about beach culture and only a little about resorts and tourism.

We can only guess at what Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak will report back to Governor Nisit, who is about to leave Thailand for Europe and ITB Berlin.

Far too many questions remain unanswered about what the future holds for European tourists who previously have loved the Thai holiday island's beaches.

Patong remains a jumble of private enterprise, with the tourists who bring their own beach chairs declining to give up their places in the sun, or the shade, on Phuket's most popular beach.

Most people can see how disastrous it will be the moment that reluctant police are forced to act upon the handouts banning all beach chairs.

Images of officers struggling with elderly tourists will destroy the picture-postcard impression of friendly Phuket across Europe forever.

One hopes it never happens, and that the 10 percent concept is quickly replaced with a return to a genuine 100 percent clearance that sweeps private enterprise from the beaches yet allows tourists to bring their own beach chairs and umbrellas.

The problem is, Thai authorities know nothing about beach culture. They choose to ignore international examples and instead bow to commercial interests, making it up as they go along - a certain recipe for disaster.

Further north at Bang Tao beach, the moment everyone had been waiting for occurred today, with the return of the outlawed sunbeds.

The proof came in photographs posted on the Facebook page of Cherng Talay Mayor Ma-Ann Samran.

He, like the other Phuket mayors along the holiday island's coast, has the responsibility of making sure the sunbeds never return.

Until Phuketwan pointed them out tonight in photos posted to his Facebook page, Mayor Ma-Ann did not know the sunbeds had returned.

The mess that is Phuket's beach policy will only begin to be sorted with a return to a total ban on commercial equipment, with tourists allowed to bring their own umbrellas and beach chairs.

We do hope that is the governor's Plan B. It stands a much better chance of working.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The Meridien does a good warning sheet on perils of motorbikes and jet skis and they have always been in forefront of lifeguard training, attended course there run by David from the Queensland Lifesaving

Posted by Michael on February 26, 2015 22:20

Editor Comment:

There are a few exceptions. Le Meridien is one. Tourist safety is a key priority. Telling them about beach arrangements is a different matter.


Ma-Ann is the true Nelsonian Eye of Phuket.

Posted by Mister Ree on February 26, 2015 22:58


Tourists have to bring their own beach chairs ? Certainly they will travel all the way from overseas and have a beach chair in their luggage ! Hmmm

Posted by Werni on February 26, 2015 23:04


The worst part of this is just the sheer defiance on the part of illegal vendors, who have consistently said "we do not care about your laws or rules". All these foolish attempts to control and micro-manage tourists beach activities, when the only thing needed is to control the illegal commercial activity. While the military is in town taking care of some silly matter involving acceptable calls to prayer, they should come down to Kata, Karon and Patong and show the police what it takes to control law breaking vendors. Maybe it is also time for hotels to start warning their guests that they will be fined 1,000 baht for conducting business with illegal beach vendors.

Posted by Ed Sanders on February 26, 2015 23:42


Oh... and by the way, the illegal sun beds have never left Bang Tao... just head north of the Best Western... business as usual... stores, plastic beds...etc.

Posted by Ed Sanders on February 26, 2015 23:43


Ma-Ann must never walk along Bang Tao Beach or Laypang or Layan. Sun beds and vendors never left. At north end of Layan beach a vendor has setup selling food and drinks, leaving the garbage created.

Posted by Shwe on February 27, 2015 06:49


Oh just what Phuket needs Ed Sanders, start fining the tourists. That'll have them coming back in drovesl.

Posted by pete59 on February 27, 2015 07:42


I have to say I have absolutely no sympathy for any of the authorities involved in this situation. Those few making decisions are making wrong ones, while the others put their heads in the sands avoiding decisions altogether. This is the culmination of 20+ years of doing nothing. Often we are expected to give the authorities a chance, or a new Governor some time, but they don't deserve it. This article makes the point the authorities know nothing of beach culture and very little about tourists and tourism. Spot on. After 20+ years little has been learnt (only pockets filled).

Can it change? I believe so. Will it? Mmmm.... not with any of these same people involved.

Posted by Duncan on February 27, 2015 08:02


And it's not just the beds and jet skis, at Surin Beacb yesterday there was a guy on the beach with a slow Loris offering photos.

Posted by Discover Thainess on February 27, 2015 08:31


How can one expect Phuket hotels/resorts/guesthouses to do the job the Governor has to executive? The idea: The Governor 'order's', and resorts can do the job?...Hahaha, Sure that is not going to happen. Most Manager Directors of hotels/Resorts have 'beach experience from outside Thailand. The do not want to become the laugh stock of the Island. Moreover, if the Mayors/Council of Bang Tao/Layan just say:..I dunno what is going on these beaches, what to expect from the resorts? Managers don't want a angry local mob at their resort gates as lately at Cape Panwa. Let us hope that Governors overseas trip to Berlin's Fair become a eye opener for him and learn more about international beach practices.

Posted by Kurt on February 27, 2015 08:33


First they chased away our guests and friends with unpopular decisions and destroyed the business for the whole island.

And now we, the resorts, are urged to explain this unbelievable unfriendly act to the remaining disappointed tourists.

Nice try.

Posted by Janeeta on February 27, 2015 09:25


To make Phuket beaches beautiful and pleasant for the tourist and thai beach visitors ( mostly on Sunday's),..Simple, keep vendors of any kind, Jet skies and para sailing off west coast beaches. Create a jet sky and para saling area at east coast. Than tourism there will increase, and that will be good for east coast local communities. Why east coast communities not take any pro active stand for such?

Posted by Kurt on February 27, 2015 09:31

Editor Comment:

Oh yes, destroy the tranquility of Phang Nga Bay. Sure.


IMHO, in the past years, many resort owners were either too wary or too scared to publically oppose the absurd directives of the authorities.

Now that seems to be changing. Resort owners are no longer prepared to kowtow to some of these directives which lack commonsense, are perhaps impossible to implement, or are detrimental to their hotel guests.

Oh yes - don't forget who brings the money to Phuket. It is the tourists.

What I see now is akin to Rome burning whilst the fiddle is playing. The authorities are scrambling and fighting each other over the breadcrumbs, who gets what kickbacks, who controls what revenue stream.

In the midst of this, the very source of this income - the tourists - are rapidly deserting the island for destinations where they are treated with respect and recognised as the major source of the community's revenues.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on February 27, 2015 11:23


Phuket locally:
Governor: I plan and order, but nobody carry out my orders.
Director Marine Office 5: Most of the time..."I dunno that".
Mayors/Councils: We don't know what is happening at our beaches. The police has to do her job.

Living in a bubble looks a fine thing.
But is auto mutilation also something to sleep good on?

Posted by Kurt on February 27, 2015 11:54


Phuket's tourism is based on people who like to relax on beach loungers, which they are willing to pay for.

When that opportunity was taken away for them, they started to bring their own chairs.

The authorities created this mess instead of doing the only sensible thing, which is having a limited but sufficient amount of beach loungers on the backside of the beach.

There is space enough for everybody and the city could make a nice income. Just put a number plate on each chair and let vendors pay tax of the amount of chairs in their possession.

There is no law in Thailand, that set a limit of 10% for commercial activities on the beaches, so allowing sufficient space for rented loungers is neither more nor less illegal than the 10% idea.

The big question is why can't someone in power wake up and try to restore what has been destroyed?

Posted by Sherlock on February 27, 2015 13:05


Consumerist culture, laziness are behind the readers' comments here : they can't even imagine having to walk from shade under the trees to a natural beach, cleared from chairs, protected against the increasing population and against vendors. This protection of the beach shows concern for the future. Can't the local media understand this ?

Posted by Beach lover on February 27, 2015 15:55


Sherlock makes the suggestion about limited sunbeds etc. towards the back of the beach. I totally agree and something I have mentioned in a previous post. Could these be state owned so the profits go towards beach maintenance life guards etc. and not back handers and bribes. Those of you who are campaigning for a complete clear up need to wake up soon because there is a clear message coming form the majority tourists, "we are not coming back to this mess and in the meantime if we find somewhere else that we like and where we are made to feel welcome we probably wont come back at all".

Posted by Richard on February 27, 2015 18:22

Editor Comment:

The concept of having one line of sunbeds and umbrellas at the back of every beach is a good one but it vanished years ago when demand created the second row . . . the third row . . . the fourth row . . . The way to save the beaches of Phuket for future generations is to ban all private enterprise, including the jet-skis, except for the moving vendors. Nothing else will work.


@Editor You state that demand led to one row of sunbeds becoming two etc. If there is a demand from the tourists what's the problem. Does Thailand want tourists? If so meet their demands, if you dont they go somewhere else.

Posted by Richard on February 27, 2015 22:38

Editor Comment:

The beaches are public and not there for private profit. Everybody wants to enjoy their beauty, not just make money from them. Lounge layabouts can easily lie under sunlamps at home.


First time in 15 years we have not been to Phuket because we wish to sit on a chair with an umbrella providing shade. We have chosen another destination for our holiday which allows us to sit comfortably and enjoy the beach and we will not return to Phuket until we are allowed to rent a chair and umbrella as we can everywhere else in the world.

Posted by Anonymous on February 28, 2015 23:15

Monday March 4, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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