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Surin beach today: More clearance work may follow, according to reports

Phuket Beach Shock: Umbrellas and Loungers Banished, Surin Foreshore Ban May Jump Pathway

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
PHUKET: Beach clubs and restaurants at Phuket's Surin beach may yet be asked to clear the other side of the illegal/legal defining path along the shorefront, a senior police superintendent told a meeting today.

The new Cherng Talay Police Station Superintendent, Colonel Paworn Pornpromma, said he was told by a senior Army officer yesterday that both sides of the path would have to be cleared.

Loungers and umbrellas are also to be banned permanently from the beaches at Surin, Layan, Laypang and Bang Tao, the meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall heard this afternoon.

Senior Army officers have been driving the beach clearances by visiting local Phuket councils and instructing them to clear the shorefronts.

Surin is especially sensitive because it was the beach visited by HM The King and Queen on a royal tour of Phuket in the 1950s.

Colonel Paworn, who has just been posted to Phuket from Surat Thani province, said that there was no mistake on his part about the Army's clearance objective.

''Now the Army lets us take care of the process but they are watching every day,'' he said. ''And they report to Bangkok every day.''

About 30 soldiers were seen on Surin shorefront yesterday, patrolling and taking photographs.

Phuketwan has so far been unable to confirm with the coup command that what the Cherng Talay police superintendent was told is correct.

However, it was made plain at this afternoon's meeting in Phuket City that umbrellas and loungers are to be banished for good.

Many of the restaurants and beach clubs have also expanded onto the sand, setting up their own loungers, tables and chairs, and converting slopes into flat commercial surfaces.

Cherng Talay Mayor Ma-Ann Samran said today that the sweep along the shorefront at Surin, Bang Tao, Layan and Laypang beaches was progressive, so it would be a mistake for beach club and restaurant proprietors at one beach to wait to see what happened at another beach.

''The order to Laypang businesses [Laypang is the northern section of Bang Tao] went out today, giving them seven days' notice,'' he said.

Laypang beach incorporates some of the largest permanent constructions, including Lotus Restaurant and the Palm Beach Club.

The clearances at Surin, where notices were sent out a week ago, was 80 percent complete, Mayor Ma-Ann said, on the seaward side of the defining pathway that runs the length of the beach.

It is believed some beach clubs and restaurants now intend to expand their businesses on the other side of the pathway.

What's not clear yet is whether the ban on umbrellas and loungers that is to be applied at Surin, Bang Tao, Layan and Laypang beaches will also be imposed at Kamala and Patong, where lines of sun loungers can stretch five deep in high season.

Large sections of Kamala beach and shorefront have also been cleared.

All of the commercial activity on Phuket's beaches and shorefronts puts money made from public space into private pockets.

Phuketwan has argued for years that all of Phuket's beaches must be put under control of a Phuket Beach Authority to preserve the beaches for future generations, and to make sure any money made from the beaches goes into maintaining them in a natural state.

Phuketwan has also argued that to keep the tourists coming, the traditional Phuket village taxi system should be replaced by an island-wide put-down pick-up system at reasonable cost to residents and visitors.

Comments

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I think taking out the restaurants on the other side of the road is going too far.
Tourists will have nowhere to eat which will damage the market instead of the improvement aimed for

Posted by Anonymous on June 17, 2014 16:46

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I hope they ban the umbrellas and loungers at Kamala beach. You don't see the ocean because the umbrellas. Hope they Clean it all.

Posted by Sunlover on June 17, 2014 17:09

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If umbrellas and lounge chairs are forbidden, then people will not go to the beaches. Full exposure to the sun is a danger and very uncomfortable. You want to kill tourism in Phuket? This will do it.

Posted by Anonymous on June 17, 2014 17:35

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It will be sad to see the beach loungers and umbrellas go. I quite liked hiring a lounger and an umbrella at the beach - or sitting in a beachside restaurant on a hot day, swimming when I wanted. I am sure those loungers and umbrellas have also saved countless beachgoers from getting skin cancers.
If the tourists all go home burned by the hot Thai sun, they will look elsewhere for somewhere to spend their summer holidays.
Surely compromise would be a better idea.

Posted by TC on June 17, 2014 17:46

Editor Comment:

The concept of umbrellas and loungers - sunbeds, some call them - is a European invention for people who need to stay on a stony Mediterranean plot all day to gain sufficient UV to last a whole year. Without loungers, people would be forced to swim, sunbake and leave, making way for other people. Given the numbers who visit Bondi beach and survive without umbrellas and loungers, what's the problem? Umbrellas and loungers are a private commercial enterprise that profits a few at the expense of many, on a public beach. Take your turn. Make way for the next bronzed body. Let everyone share the beach, for free.

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I am so happy to read it!
Although these changes are against economical interests of many operators at or around Surin Beach, or other beaches, an environmental target of sustainability should put first.

Palm Beach Club on Bang Tao, if is meant, obviously, M??VENPICK Bang Tao, as it was sold a year ago? I am curious whether only beach club on the sand, or whole construction incl.restaurant, that is beach-side off the road, will be removed?

Posted by Sue on June 17, 2014 17:55

Editor Comment:

Our understanding is that all construction on the sea side of the road has to go.

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"Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again..."

Posted by Smithy on June 17, 2014 18:02

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A totally ban on umbrellas and chairs on a crowded beach like Patong will harm tourism income.
But strict rules like no more chairs out than occupation demand, always start away from the water and a minimum distance to the water would be welcome.

Posted by Sherlock on June 17, 2014 18:49

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you haven't been on Patong beach in high season on a day when loungers occupy all available space. This is private enterprise at work on a public space, people making money from a natural feature that is there to be shared by all. Is that such a difficult principle to grasp?

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@Anonymous 2:
"Full exposure to the sun is a danger and very uncomfortable".
Please don't say things like that as it will just encourage another long winded diatribe from Sue.

Posted by Pete on June 17, 2014 18:50

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From one extreme to another! This action was reported to be taking place at other beaches, such as Nai Yang which would be decimated if all the properties on the beach side were to be completely removed. Having said the practice of filling the beach with tables and chairs, and only Thank Goodness in one location with rows of loungers down to the sea was starting to be copied up in Khao Lak until the local village community took matters into its hands and threatened to demolish all the businesses unless they voluntarily moved back and took out legal agreements. That process was already underway in April when we left and will, if completed, make a much better environment for tourists and profitable one for businesses, when we return in November. Phuket's problems are of a much bigger scale though and I too see the problems in the immediate future of replacing dining venues with so many being forcibly and immediately removed. Tourists expecting the "feet in the sand" dining experience Thailand and other exotic destinations are famed for are in for a shock!

Posted by Alan on June 17, 2014 18:59

Editor Comment:

By November they may still be able to dine on the sand but with the profit going towards maintaining the beaches, not into private pockets. The beaches are for everyone, not just a few greedy profit-takers.

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The beach is for everybody in Thailand. It is not right for people to do business in a public space. If they allow that then it is better that the money goes to the government for the benefit of local people and not for the benefit of a mafia people.

Posted by Boom on June 17, 2014 19:01

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I think this is great - the beaches will be like they used to be before greed took over.

I do wonder if the authorities also check how each remaining business are dealing with their toilet and other waste water.

Posted by Toby on June 17, 2014 19:12

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@ Ed - this is not about principles, it is about survival of tourism on Phuket, incl. the working expats, who read this page.

I wrote that a total ban would be damaging for tourism, but strict regulations would be welcomed, meant as necessary.

Of course the chair vendors have to pay to society for the right of using public land and of course they have to pay tax of the income.

Regulated beach chairs is an advantage for many people, opposed jet-skies and para-sailing.

No beach chairs means no tourists, which means no money and no income to this page - is that so difficult to grasp?

Posted by Sherlock on June 17, 2014 19:26

Editor Comment:

No beach chairs means no tourists? That seems odd, Sherlock, given that the tourists Phuket had once from Scandinavia and Germany have moved to Phang Nga and Krabi, where there are no beach loungers. Where's the logic there, Sherlock? The truth is, tourists don't come to Phuket for the beach chairs. They never have.

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I live in Patong from November through March. There is plenty of room for people who do not want to pay for loungers and umbrellas (except, possibly, for very brief times during exceedingly high tides). The people who provide the loungers are not greedy bastards, they are hard working local families. Your insults are totally uncalled for. The sun's rays are vasty more damaging here than in the Mediterranean. People like to go to the beach and stay for many hours. That is what a beach resort is.
The people who rent the chairs and umbrellas on Patong Beach are not mafia people. This is ludicrous.

Posted by Anonymous on June 17, 2014 19:41

Editor Comment:

What wrong with Phuket is the sense of entitlement that many people have towards their ''right'' to make an income from Phuket's natural treasures. The truth is that the beaches and the reefs belong through the King to all Thais, not just the few who think being born by the beach means they own the sand. That's the truly insulting part, anonymous, and it's an insult to the intelligence of us all.

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The beaches at Ao Nang, (where umbrellas and sun loungers are banned), seem to manage just fine...

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...such as Nai Yang which would be decimated if all the properties on the beach side were to be completely removed.
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Clearly you don't remember just after the tsunami when Nai Yang had only a few wooden bars adjacent to the beach road.

Then greed took over and everyone and their dog started land grabs on the beach side and started building illegal, concrete hotels and bars, paying no tax and expanding further and further onto the beach.

I applaud any effort by the authorities to demolish all of these illegal structures.

If you want to build a business at Nai Yang, then build it on the other side of the beach road, (where you have to pay to lease the land, pay taxes etc etc)

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 17, 2014 19:59

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My observations/suggestions for what they are worth:

1/. There were no loungers & umbrellas when I first arrived in Karon/Kata 20 years ago. It is not necessary to obstruct the entire beach.

A simple answer would be to have licensed vendors off the beach, with an agreed maximum number of loungers & umbrellas per beach, for hire on request.

Best of both worlds for everyone with the added advantage of generating income for the local authorities to pay for lifeguards, their equipment & training.

2/. Within the past 5 years, I have been threatened/intimidated by the present vendors for refusing to hire their equipment & choosing instead to put my own mat & towel in whatever corner of beach I could find.

My above solution removes that threat.

Posted by Logic on June 17, 2014 20:01

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This is not good for families whos are travelling with kids.

Posted by Patric on June 17, 2014 20:07

Editor Comment:

People cope all around the world at beaches with children without loungers and umbrellas.

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@ Ed - just one question. Some people move to places without beach loungers. But why why do other people on Phuket pay for a chair with umbrella, if they don't need it?

Posted by Sherlock on June 17, 2014 20:24

Editor Comment:

Because they have no choice.

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army forever !!! tankyou so much !!!

Posted by x on June 17, 2014 20:31

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I think the present state of affairs regarding beach chairs has to change. In some places its wall to wall deckchairs and it impossible to find a place to sit in the sand without being on the waters edge. The ideal would be as suggested a public body whose sole purpose was to administer the chair business...Of course then it would be taken over by some corrupt administrator....Ok forget it. Can we not just have some moderation from the local authorities..ok forget that too...Ban the Lot Then.

Posted by Mike on June 17, 2014 20:43

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@Anonymous 17:41

"not greedy, hard working local families"

Yes, may be not excessively greedy, and ,yes, local families.

Do you have an idea what is a return on investment in sunbeds and rights to place them?
And economics for a stock of few hundreds sunbeds?

I can inform you:
Thai sunbed vendors, in particular from Phuket, travel during green season with families in business class to Europe for 2-3 weeks, France-Italy etc., and staying in appropriate hotels, of course.
They are among those Thai customers who constantly favorite the same Chanel bag model - previously it cost 2,000-2,500 EUR, lately prices probably went up.
Ok, during green season business class return can cost only 1,500-2,000 EUR, but still full budget trip for the family incl.shopping runs well above 10,000EUR.

About "hard-working" here we probably have to come clear what "working" constitutes:
in the morning/evening they place/remove sunbeds, and do some cleaning of the area, and in between just sale of rent service and delivering some orders to their F&D back desk. It is not oerfurjed by one person, but by the gang. Very hard working!

Posted by Sue on June 17, 2014 20:55

Editor Comment:

With one Patong sunbed hirer recently recorded here as renting out his patch of beach space out at night to a nearby restaurant at 10,000 baht a month, the benefits of ''owning'' the beach are obvious. There are no property titles. And none of this money goes back into preserving the beaches for future generations.

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@Patric

I'm not sure about Surin and its zoning, but on Bang Tao e.g. Bliss is located on a private land and will continue its operations - although not perfectly picterisque, it provides ,probably the best functional facilities for kids. Sunbeds then will be placed within Bliss land plot boundaries on a grass.

Posted by Sue on June 17, 2014 21:02

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@ Ed - I do agree with the fact, that in high season, when it is high tide, there is to little space at the waterfront at Patong beach only.

Strict regulations and tax paid for every licensed chair can solve that problem.

But people still have a choice if they to be exposed to the tropical sun all day.

Many tourists on Phuket prefers comfort rather than life in the wild, which society have to respect, if society want's these peoples money.

Thai people have chosen to make an income from Phuket's natural treasures.

Totally back to nature is to late for the big tourist beaches.

Posted by Sherlock on June 17, 2014 21:16

Editor Comment:

I am not so sure about that, Sherlock. Commercialisation of the beaches is where the problems begin. There will always be problems as long as there is commerce on the beaches. Most of the world's best beach destinations do not need sunbeds and umbrellas. The difference is between giving the tourists what they want and what's sustainable. The sunbed model is not sustainable. It is aiding the degradation of the beaches. Cigarette butts and bottle tops in the sand . . . noticeable discoloration. The beaches in their natural state are beautiful and they should be kept that way, free from commerce.

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been to phuket many times but the rip off by tuc tuc and taxis is very off putting some form of regulated price structure is required or better still make it law or punishable by a heavy fine that taxis MUST use their METRES WITH NO EXCEPTIONS and you will find tourists like myself with family will travel around the island a lot more AND SPEND MONEY for the locals to benifit and not the transport industry

Posted by george on June 17, 2014 21:23

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Great to hear the Army is keeping an eye on these clear ups ensuring the momentum is kept up by the police and authorities to prevent slipping back to the old ways of dealing or not dealing with these problems

Posted by Scunner on June 17, 2014 22:15

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I had never seen a lounger on the beach except for a few belonging to individuals before I first visted Phuket.
Australia's beaches are thankfully free of them and I hope that soon we can say the same about beaches on Phuket.

Posted by Arthur on June 17, 2014 22:24

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Pathetic arguments you can bring your own lotion hat sunglasses 'umbrella shade cloth whatever or drink cooler if you like common sight on Australian beaches so what's so hard or difficult about doing that.

Posted by slickmelb on June 17, 2014 22:37

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Has anyone any news of Kata and Karon beach?
Will the loungers be forbidden there as well?

Posted by Elizabeth on June 17, 2014 22:58

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Sherlock, have you never been to a beach before without chairs? I always go to the beach here in Phuket, and its very difficult to find a place because of all the deck chairs.
There is NO need to the beach to be littered with this rubbish. Bring you own if you want shade. Or use a good SPF cream.

Posted by Tbs on June 17, 2014 23:08

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About where money goes from sunbeds/umbrella rent - in Europe e.g. in Cyprus, Formentera is.that is part of Balearics, all sunbeds&umbrella are rented by municipality - you are getting a numbered ticket, where an amount incl.VAT is shown.
The very same is applicable to Phuket : employment will not suffer if municipality will take over sunbeds renting until November, and accordingly re-employ beach boys, with presumed salaries max.9,000-15,000THB/monthly
Those will suffer are those who gains non-employment income from sunbeds - for you guys, sorry...
And there is no space for crying about "hard-working families losing income", as all workers can be re-employed, but loss of business profit, in this particular situation, doesn't deserve any tears.

And beaches in those municipalities as cited above are BlueFlag certified ,i.e.there is an integrate beach management system in place,here - Blue Flag.

Blue Flag beach management system advocates against uncontrolled and ill-planned tourism.

So as result of applying sound beach management system, number of visitors can fall, and so, not necessarily, the volume of tourism economy , and hence employment in the sector both of natives and expats.
But environmental goal is paramount here, pursuing purely economic goals all these years led to nowhere.

I'm fully on PW side that there is should designated responsible for beach management body , consisting of all stakeholders (as per Blue Flag guidance) a.k.a. "beach administration", and that direct fees like for sunbeds/umbrella should go to municipality - then they will have more money to finance Blue Flag program.

Posted by Sue on June 17, 2014 23:34

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Strangely I had not read this yet today but I noticed a Bakkie(truck) loading up hundreds of lounger cushions in Karon today opposite The Hilton. Obviously they fear the same.
I too don't get this tourist must have loungers story. All my life we have visited the beaches all over the world. You swim and tan and move on. On 1 or 2 beaches they had umbrellas for rent, you paid then set it up and laid down your towels.
You very right in saying that now we have no choice, we either pay for a lounger or lay in the water.
Am very impressed with the Millitary, obviously we won't all agree with all their decisions but if the majority are for the betterment of Thailand then I'm happy too.
Goodbye tomorrow and see you soon.

Posted by Gregg P Cornell on June 17, 2014 23:50

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The Umbrella and chair owners had better start ordering the straw mats that people roll out to put their towels on. Have a Mobile cart to sell them from.
The Next Big Business on Phuket for sure.

Glad to see change and I will miss the loungers. Now if they just fix the Jet Skis they will be doing great for the tourism.

Posted by JOhn on June 18, 2014 00:04

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Editor, your continuous belly-aching about the greedy entrepreneurs making money from public land is becoming quite nauseating.

I have been visiting Surin Beach for the last 7 years and have seen the number of establishments balloon. On my last recent visit the beach was covered in loungers, umbrellas and there were a few new clubs and eating places since last year. I think that Surin beach had reached 100% capacity.

However it may come as a surprise to you to learn that in all the years I visited Surin beach, I never heard of a single case of a person being denied use of the sand if they did not wish to use a lounger, nor were they denied access to the beach or the sea. The provision of food and drink was a bonus, and certainly the umbrellas were, from a health point of view, essential for the shelter from the noonday sun for Europeans, and Russians too.

You may in future see Surin Beach in its virgin state with a few hardy souls lying on beach towels but the numbers of tourists, already reduced by the world wide economic downturn, will definitely decrease in Surin Beach. It may be beyond the wit of the local uniforms to apply anything but a heavy handed approach, but I am sure that given the opportunity, a committee of the greedy entrepreneurs could have come up with a compromise that would have resulted in all parties being placated, and the facilities retained for the benefit of both tourists and businesses.

Posted by Anonymous on June 18, 2014 05:37

Editor Comment:

I note that you are not prepared to provide a name with your commentary. Your comment highlights the problem - the commercialisation of Phuket's beaches. As long as money from the public beaches passes into private pockets, Phuket's future is doomed. The crowding, the insatiable greed and the degradation of the island's natural treasures can only grow worse.
I have certainly heard of people who have been told to leave Surin beach by those who wrongly assume they ''own'' it.
There is no evidence elsewhere in the world to support your argument. Your entire case is about protecting the greed, not protecting the beaches.
Do you by any chance work in public relations for the tobacco industry?

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Perhaps there is a happy medium. I quite enjoy the lounges on the beach but agree it is out of control. As stated earlier all income from the beaches should go to protect them, including lifeguards. A Beach Authority that controls the income and uses it wisely may be the answer. Sometimes these things go from one extreme to the other. Could be a case of some beaches with lounges for those who want them and others without them. Most regular visitors I know seem to enjoy the lounges and the service on the beach, but I do know some people that don't and enjoy laying on the sand. Personally I am happy either way and realistically it is not a tourist choice. As always the Thais need to make a decision and it is up to us all to respect it, or go elsewhere.

Posted by Davemc60 on June 18, 2014 05:48

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Patric, it might be hard, for you, to believe but Australia has families, with kids, who go to the beach, there are no beach mafia and umbrellas are taken by the family, you will have great difficulty finding any deckchairs. ALL beaches are public beaches, no one, no matter who they are can "own" a beach.

Posted by Laurie Howells on June 18, 2014 07:26

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There seems to be a lot of debate on the lounges and umbrellas. The major focus of the crackdown seems to be on the building on public land. In Australia building exist on public land around beaches in every state. But they are the exception, not the norm, and the operators pay a hefty lease fee to the local council to help pay for local services. No building should be allowed to detract from the natural beauty of an area but to point blank rule out any would be throwing away valuable public funds to help pay for everything. The issue seems to be none of those fees are being collected or used. 80% of all problems are management problems and people will always push as far as they can when a dollar, or Baht is involved. It seems to me the authorities have taken the attitude to go back to the beginning and start again, which makes perfect sense. I am back in Phuket in a couple of months and can not wait to see the results of all that has occurred.

Posted by Davemc60 on June 18, 2014 07:41

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"Lots of people are saying bring your own sun loungers. Fine. Any info on costs to transport them on my flight from Europe please. That's for a family of six. Hang on. Maybe I'll just go somwhere else." If that sentiment is repeated a few million times what do you think that will do to tourist numbers? Going from one extreme to the other is no solution.

Posted by Tony on June 18, 2014 09:55

Editor Comment:

It is if saving the beaches is the priority. Tourists who understand and enjoy nature will take your place.

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Your gratuitous insults to people who disagree with you are an outrage.
Tell me how lounge chairs increase the number of cigarette butts on the beach? In fact the vendors clean the beach. I could go on but it is hopeless to have a civil conversation with you.

Posted by Ken Freed on June 18, 2014 10:33

Editor Comment:

I have never seen the beaches of Phuket in a more disgraceful condition than they were at the end of the high season. Each year, the degradation grows worse because the greed grows worse. The local people should be guardians of the beach. The vendors take your money and pretend to pick up after you. Open your eyes.

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Since the beaches are public land, perhaps the local administrations could operate a reasonable number of chairs and umbrellas on each beach, with the revenue going towards beach upkeep and maintenance. Ideally, the vendors would be working for the local government with a fixed salary, so the temptation to bully tourists into using the chairs would not be there. Obviously, this would need honest and transparent local government officials, but with the current daily happenings, it seems like almost anything is possible. Personally, I've never used the chairs and would prefer the beaches to be without them, but I do understand that many tourists enjoy using them. Maybe this could be a happy medium.

Posted by concerned in karon on June 18, 2014 10:44

Editor Comment:

There is no ''happy medium.'' The choice is to ban commercial activity completely or to allow the beaches to be privatised to destruction. Can you imagine the situation when people used to five rows of loungers find there's just one row next high season? That's one reason why it has to be all or nothing. Preserving Phuket's beaches for generations to come is the aim, not making all tourists happy.

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Pretend? I am not allowed to see the evidence before my eyes? I am on Patong Beach 150 to 180 days every year, 2 to 6 hours a day. I know what I am seeing.

Posted by Ken Freed on June 18, 2014 10:53

Editor Comment:

Well next time, go for a long walk at the back of the beach. Look at the sand closely as you walk. You will be surprised at your own blindness.

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I have lived very near the beach all my life and I have never seen the kind of greed and takeover of public land as has taken place on Phuket over the years. I am all for an outright ban on loungers, I never have needed one! Bring a woven mat or towel, wear some sunscreen, a hat and shirt, bring your own umbrella or find some shade under a tree! That's what I do.

Posted by Jim McGowan on June 18, 2014 11:30

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@ Tbs - this is not about what you, I and a few other nature loving people want. I never use beach chairs and I do prefer beaches without them.

However a majority of tourists on the big beaches prefer them and these people will find other holiday destinations if beach loungers aren't available.

So I control my ego and concentrate on, what is best for the society on Phuket's entire west coast.

And that is strictly controlled licensed beach loungers, preferable ran by the public, with a numbered ticket system.

Posted by Sherlock on June 18, 2014 12:59

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Just got back from a visit to Surin Beach. I could not believe I could park in the parking lot and I could see the beach. Wow. I was so happy I forgot to take a picture. This is fantastic. I hope they ban loungers not only on Surin Beach all the Beaches in Phuket. They beach chair money never went to the government only a few local people. This is great for promoting tourism. Fix the beaches and taxi problems and high quality tourist will come back. Great job by the NCPO to get the local politicians and police to do there jobs.

Posted by jiminkata on June 18, 2014 13:11

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Driving back from the bypass morning, I note that one of the established shops that sells secondhand hotel furniture and equipment is now selling a large number of well-worn, bamboo beach umbrellas.

Guess there might be a few bargains to buy in the days to come. I must make a list of things to buy....

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 18, 2014 18:19

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"It is if saving the beaches is the priority. Tourists who understand and enjoy nature will take your place." - So those of the millions of visitors to Phuket who enjoy dining in beachfront restaurants, lounging on the beach, having cocktails at beach bars (as they do at many destinations world wide) and who will go elsewhere for the type of beach holiday they enjoy are going to be replaced by as many if not more who will do what with their time in the sun? You've specified the nightmare that you consider Phuket (and by association other beach destinations) are but I fear your dream is not to change the face of Phuket it is to change the face of tourism and all the benefits that brings to the local communities you profess to be saving from the greed of others. Phuket has gone too far but this draconian approach in my humble opinion is not the solution.

Posted by Alan on June 18, 2014 18:57

Editor Comment:

I've never referred to Phuket as a ''nightmare'' and I understand the enjoyment of being able to dine by the sea. But there are plenty of places where that can still be done, legally. Everything we seek for Phuket's future is positive and the only way the island will survive is by protecting its public assets properly. The money earned from the beaches goes to just a few and it's for short-term thinkers, the quick profit-takers. The beaches belong to all Thais, not just those who live near them. You are clearly confused and your notion that the tourists will disappear with the sunloungers is really, really strange, Alan. Have you never been to a place where beaches are properly protected, and tourists still come? But I guess some people will always prefer the money and can't see beyond their own wallets.

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I'm not confused at all just expressing a different view to your vision based on a Khao Lak lover external perspective on its "noisy neighbour" Phuket. Have I never been to a place where beaches are properly protected, and tourists still come? Yes, I've visited your wonderful country as a tourist and marvelled at the fantastic beaches you have which are protected and controlled. But you are missing my point. I have many friends from Australia and will be going over next year to spend time on the Gold Coast where some beaches there are hardly as nature intended them. Ironically it is some of those friends who love coming to Khao Lak for their beautiful beaches that have restaurants along the periphery where they can dine and for the most parts places where they can lounge at the edge. Those businesses are run by locals with income and employment going to the local community just as it did before the Tsunami took the coast back to how nature intended. That regeneration is mainly in the hands of the local people for the local people. It is an easy solution to demolish all the businesses. It is not easy as the people of Khao Lak and other areas, including Phuket, that were decimated by the Tsunami to regenerate themselves. In the meantime what will fill the void? Hope that nature lovers like yourself, and believe it or not, me, will flock in? I don't believe so, you do. Views are easy to express, delivering change on the scale you are advocating with no strategic plan on a "here today, gone tomorrow" basis will take a lot longer. Let's hope the new corruption free environment can deliver.

Posted by Alan on June 18, 2014 21:02

Editor Comment:

For a minute there, I thought you were supporting the corrupt development of beaches on Phuket. But you have no specific knowledge about Phuket, you're just pretending to know all the answers, and you want to live in an idyllic world where there's limited encroachment and it never grows beyond a certain point, even as tourists and greed increase exponentially. Welcome to your own nightmare, Alan. Good luck with your plan.

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In my opinion there's a simple solution,allow a couple of rows of umbrellas and beds and preserve the part of the beach nearest to the water free from everything.I visit Phuket at least once in a year and Surin is by far my favourite beach.I've never be bothered so much by umbrellas and vendors,while i ever apprciated the chance to have launch in some restaurants close to the beach.I think the very wrong thing is to sell,in Thailand as in other countries i visited in southeast asia, entire portions of beautiful beaches to luxury resorts that close the access to everyone eccept their customers

Posted by ivano on June 18, 2014 23:40

Editor Comment:

Every year at peak season, Surin and other west coast Phuket beaches are covered in sun beds from the waterline to the back of the beach. There is no way you can have two lines of sun beds where usually there are five or six. Within a couple of years, there will be more sun beds on more beaches. If the aim is to save the beaches for future generations, the sun beds have to go. If the aim is to allow a few people to profit as the beaches are destroyed, let the sun beds continue to grow.

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I have been going to tropical beaches for 40 years and the Phuket beaches are as good as any public beaches I have been to.Thailand is not just for foreign tourists. There are many Thais who love to come on holiday to the beach..Most seem content to have a mat. This year I saw almost no open space for people to put down a mat.When tour companies print posters to show the beauty of tropical beaches beach chairs are never in the picture. I hope that they soon are not on the beach.

Posted by michael john on June 19, 2014 04:00

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I'm waiting to see if the 'Tom-Yam-Goong' and 'Blue Lagoon' restaurants will be demolished. They've occupied public land on Bangtao Beach for decades. Not even the Tsunami could remove them.

Posted by agogohome on June 19, 2014 12:32

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"I note that you are not prepared to provide a name with your commentary."

You have posted that a name is not required, but an email is. I have complied with your wishes, so do not criticise me. No one in Phuket would know me, but my name is Peter. If I had not posted an email, my comments would not have been posted. The final decision is yours. I am not the only one who had posted as 'Anonymous' and you seem quite happy to accept their posts.

I am a bona fide tourist, retired and have not smoked for more than 20 years. I have no axe to grind, but enjoy the beach and am prepared to put up with the activities of the greedy business people because they provide a service that I want and need to complete my enjoyment of the beach. My objection to beach activities extend to noisy and repetitious disco beat 'music' and jet skis, speed boats, etc. I am even prepared to put up with the beach sellers who have to earn a living.

One of these days an authority with common sense will find a way to provide the facilities that meet all needs, including those of the government who own the land. It seems that the beach facilities provide an easy target. There are many improvements that are needed in Thailand to its infrastructure, and starting off by killing off businesses is not the way to go.

Posted by Peter on June 19, 2014 15:40

Editor Comment:

Killing the businesses is the only option before the businesses kill the beaches, Peter. It's an easy choice. I guess materialism and commerce condition people to think they need materialism and commerce everywhere, all the time.

You may be surprised to learn that anonymous posters who do not put a name are treated with disdain. Would you read a series of messages from anonymous contributors that people did not even bother to ''sign''? No value there.

Phuket's beaches are public and the vendors who line their pockets on them contribute nothing to the future of the beaches. All the items are available at retail outlets at better prices.

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Will somebody please rake dowm that hiddeous bimi beach club flat screen repeating the same add over and over on the main road into patong......its terrible

Posted by katoey ting tong on June 19, 2014 19:36

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jiminkata

Actually I know for a fact the orbortor collect money from the vendors on Nai Harn beach and suspect it is same at all the rest, also vast amounts of key money changes hands to take over a spot.

One of mu friends has a spot there and having known her for twenty five years she gives me a fully honest rundown of how it works

Posted by Michael on June 19, 2014 20:21

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Editor, are you collecting opinions or names? Because someone does not choose to add a name, should not invalidate their opinion. If they do not add an email, then you can ignore them - do you? Or do you in an impartial manner take a concensus of opinion and views of the tourists, or are they of no importance to you?

There is an old saying in business, you may have heard it - "The customer is always right". Obviously this does not translate into the Thai language!

I am sure that if you read all of the posts on this topic you will find that there are many from tourists who want these facilities, and the objectors are few and far between, mostly from people who I suspect do not derive any income from the beach clubs and restaurants.

There is another way to describe this attitude - it is of the "dog in the manger!"

I have done a quick count and make it 20 for the beach facilities, 18 against and 13 undecided or irrelevant posts.

I expect to see you, editor, every evening down on Surin beach with your rake and black rubbish bag, picking up all the garbage that I have seen the bar/restaurant staff cleaning up. And don't forget the shoreline where the bottles, flip flops and other detritus can be found.

I believe that in spite of one comment to the contrary Sue has expressed some very sensible compromises. She is talking sense whereas preserving the beaches in their natural state will definitely harm the local economy, but then I don't suppose that bothers a newspaper editor or the uniforms much as you all already have a secure income.

Posted by Peter on June 20, 2014 02:21

Editor Comment:

Wrong in every point, Peter. ''Compromise'' is what happens when parties meet and decide a little can't do any harm. In the case of Surin beach, it appears every square inch of sand is covered by sun loungers during peak season. Anyone who has ever had a customer knows the customer is not always right. Better to save the beaches and allow Phuket to attract the customers it deserves.
Opinions without names are like sheep in a field.

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I think if your policy is to abuse posters who do not supply a name or avatar, you really ought to inform us. I was an anonymous poster. Why? Because what difference does it make what my name is. Then I was insulted by you and you have my name now. If you don't see how absurd this is, I worry about your mental health.

Posted by Ken Freed on June 20, 2014 18:10

Editor Comment:

We don't have a policy to abuse posters for any reason but we do have a lot of abusive posters and most of them prefer not to give their names. Most are full of pointless slurs but short on valuable information, Ken Freed/Patong Ken.

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Goodbye Tourists - Hello Backpackers

Posted by Peter on June 30, 2014 15:10

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Editor Comment:

I have never seen the beaches of Phuket in a more disgraceful condition than they were at the end of the high season. Each year, the degradation grows worse because the greed grows worse. The local people should be guardians of the beach. The vendors take your money and pretend to pick up after you. Open your eyes.

What is the problem for the orbortor in each small beach town, to have a cleaning team? That team can easily be paid by a government owned system for nice beach lounges, small ones, big ones, with umberellas, without umberellas. People do actually want to sit under the umbrella, especially families with kids. In fact the sun is really agressive in Thailand, which not all tourist know about.
I think they should stear it up.
It will be a disaster with no sunbeds at all.

Same with restaurants. People want to sit in the restaurant, overlooking the sea and have a lunch, coffe or breakfast. Without that in Phuket, there will be less tourists, for sure.

Of course everybody want clean beaches. What is the problem hiring a team of 4? 4x10000x12= 480.000 baht. 100 Sunbeds giving - 100x150x120= 1.800.000 baht. Cleaning beach and renting 100 sunbeds. Profit 1.320.000 for the orbortor. Profit for tourist = nice and clean beach, 100 sunbeds that is controlled by orbortor.

Ed: do you have a problem with that?

Posted by Peter on June 30, 2014 15:31

Editor Comment:

The problems on the beaches are caused by commerce and compromise. People all over the world manage to go to visit the seaside without umbrellas and loungers. The people I've spoken to on the cleared Surin beachfront think it looks remarkable and natural and they hope the commerce never returns. During peak season, photographs show, the beach was all sunbeds. There was no room for more. Keeping the beaches natural is the only way that Phuket's tourist industry can hope to survive. If visitors need shade, they can certainly bring it with them.

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The failure by Pla & Salt restaurants to remove their sand bags, wooden steaks with 3 inch rusty nails protruding speak volumes of the total contempt to the natural beauty of the beach as well as authority. I am off for a tetanus shot. And I was lucky it just took a gash in my foot.

Posted by Anonymous on June 30, 2014 22:24

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No deck chairs and umbrellas at all? At least put some as long as they don't obstruct anyone. How long do you think one can enjoy the beach under the hot sun with a beach towel and no deck chair and umbrella? One hour, maybe two? I used to spent my whole day under the shade of the umbrella and enjoy the beach, sea of Phuket. Dont think I will come back.

Posted by Anonymous on July 22, 2014 10:10

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i seem to be the only one devestated about the loss of the stores and beach bars. the people that worked there were so happy and made thailand so special for me and now they are gone.

is it possible that in the future the thais will be able to rent sections of the beach to put the beach bars in?

Posted by dakota on August 11, 2014 11:10

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I think this is terrible news for tourists. We have been coming to Bangtao beach every year since Christmas 2000 and the part of the holiday we particularly love is sitting comfortably on the beach with our family and our friends families enjoying the view, the beach life, eating in the restaurants day and night and supporting the people who make their living from this. Some places on the beach ARE very crowded with chairs and umbrellas particularly the area towards the Bangtao fishing village but the other end where we sit is not crowded. Maybe a restriction on the number of chairs and umbrellas in front of the restaurants could work as they do in Goa, India., or perhaps the owners paying a rent for the area they use. It would be very sad if this move affected the beach life we love .

Posted by Debbie on August 11, 2014 19:40

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This is bad news. If they do ban umbrella's and sunbeds on Patong beach my wife and I will cancel our holidays as I am sure a lot of other people will.. We have been going there for 15 years.

Posted by Craig on August 28, 2014 10:59

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I have been going to thailand in December for the past 10 years with a group of 30 friends.We will not be coming in December if this is the case. we need chairs and umbrella. This is a very sad time for all especially the people who worked on the beaches and gave great service.

Posted by Anonymous on October 3, 2014 03:05

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@Unlucky Ananymous

Yes, better stay at home then.
FYI beach in Barcelona is umbrella-/sunbed-less as per now

http://instagram.com/p/r1wXsQJOPT/

Posted by Sue on October 3, 2014 04:35

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I not come here anymore. Phuket looks poor now without faculities to go to the beach. I am sure most toursits think the same and it look The military ruin Thailands tourist industry. Really incredible!!

Posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2014 17:30

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Go ahead. Kill the tourism on the Phuket Island. Rumors say that the Patong Mafia refuse the Beachchairs and Umbrellas. No problem. There are many other countrys in the World who deliver Sunshine and Beaches. But including Chairs and Umbrellas. Good by wonderful Thailand

Posted by Heinz Meier on January 14, 2015 01:29


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