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Umbrellas and mats expand outside the 10 percent zone at Phuket's Patong

Governor May Call in Navy to Clear Beach

Friday, May 8, 2015
PHUKET: The Governor of Phuket, Nisit Jansomwong, will call in the Royal Thai Navy to investigate the latest abuses of government policy at Patong, the most popular holiday island beach.

It was plain on Patong today that umbrellas and mats have clearly expanded beyond the governor's plan to limit commercial usage to 10 percent of every beach.

Strolling vendors were plain to see - as they are at virtually all of Phuket's beaches - and defiant swimmers are still bringing their own beach chairs and umbrellas, despite a ban.

At least one Patong restaurant appears to have encroached on a public area of the beach with tables and chairs.

Governor Nisit was in Bangkok for talks today and rain fell across most of Phuket, negating any likely patrol by the Navy.

Patong was quiet today in advance of the wet weather forecast. But it seems likely that fine weather will bring more abuses of the governor's 10 percent plan.

All mats and umbrellas are supposed to be confined to the 10 percent of the beach allocated for commercial purposes, leaving the other 90 percent for swimmers to use - but without umbrellas.

All beach chairs and sunbeds have been banned.

Honorary consuls from European countries have made the point that there's a lack of understanding about the cultural difference between Thais and Europeans.

''Europeans have been brought up to use chairs and lounges,'' one consul said, on condition of anonymity.

''There is no way the average elderly European visitor can suddenly learn to get up and down from a mat. For Thais, this is natural and easy.

''For elderly Europeans who spend large amounts of money on Phuket, getting up and down from a mat is impossible.''

With numbers of tourists dropping for the low season, many businesses fear the current rules will stop many European visitors from returning next high season.

Patong Mayor Chalermlak Kebsub has told the governor more than once that council officers are not capable of enforcing the new regulations over an entrenched group of beach entrepreneurs who believe they have a traditional right to make money from public space.

The military cleared commerce from all of Phuket's beaches and foreshores soon after taking control almost one year ago. However, the governor's 10 percent plan is an experimental compromise designed to give the poorest workers some income.

Patong's Mayor Chalermlak says there are no poor beach workers in Patong.

''I agreed to the beach clearance,'' she said today. ''But I believe rows of umbrellas should be restored. They look quite beautiful.

''The problem with the governor's 10 percent idea is that on busy days when Patong beach has, say, 10,000 visitors, it's not possible to fit all those who want umbrellas into the 10 percent zone.''

Looser, more casual arrangements appear to be working quite well at other popular beaches, including Kamala, Karon, Kata, Surin and Nai Harn.

However, jet-skis continue to hog prime space on the shore at Patong and have infiltrated Surin, a beach where they were previously banned.

Mayor Chalerlak has posted a large notice providing visitors with the telephone numbers of Phuket's honorary consuls should they find themselves involved in the kind of intimidation that comes with disputes about jet-ski damages.

It has been suggested that instead of extorting cash from tourists, jet-ski operators should make sure insurance is comprehensive.

Phuketwan believes that if jet-skis cannot be banned, all jet-ski owners should contribute to a cooperative fund to cover claims, and that all of Phuket's beaches should be totally cleared of commerce, with swimmers allowed to bring their own beach chairs and umbrellas and sit wherever they like.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Unfortunately you cannot legislate human greed. All laws require either acceptance or obeyance by the citizens and enforcement for transgressors. Phuket has neither.

Posted by Arun Muruga on May 8, 2015 12:11


As long the Governor and thai government officials do not ban the by thai law illegal jet-skies, that long the governor and thai government have no authority among majority of beach visiters. As long there are illegal dangerous jet sky machines on the beaches, that long for sure to 10% plan of the Governor will not work. The governor has to regain respect of people first by enforcing the law about illegal jet-machines. Calling in the Navy for his 10% plan and at same time allowing the illegal dangerous jet ski machine people to operate( who actually also not respect their percent landing plan!)sounds pathetic and reality blindness on International Phuket holiday island.
Go ahead, show the world again armed Navy personal on the beaches. Where in the world can we enjoy such scene?

Posted by Kurt on May 8, 2015 12:13


It is funny. Phuket Governor will call in Navy to clear commerce from Patong beach. But not tell the navy to remove the by thai law illegal jet-skies at the same time? There is not any other Phuket beach 'respecting' the 10% rule. Everywhere vendors do what they want, No authority feels the cal to stop that. A 'rule' loose grounds when 'laws' are not enforced.

Posted by Kurt on May 8, 2015 12:35


A world famous beach resort unable to manage it's beaches is quite frankly, an astonishing display.

Posted by Herbert on May 8, 2015 12:40


" entrenched group of beach entrepreneurs who believe they have a traditional right to make money from public space"??

Lock them up for a week, then 2 weeks etc etc.

Posted by Elephants Gerald on May 8, 2015 12:41


"Mayor Chalerlak has posted a large notice providing visitors with the telephone numbers of Phuket's honorary consuls should they find themselves involved in the kind of intimidation that comes with disputes about jet-ski damages."
Is this instead of or as well as contacting the Thai authorities, especially the Police, who are the ones legally authorised to deal with the enforcement of their own country's laws not abdicate that responsibility to "honorary" representatives of foreign countries?

Posted by Alan on May 8, 2015 12:56


Most Phuket wan readers knew this was doomed to fail & where is the Governors
enforcers nobody wants to enforce it like its a hand grenade being passed around, Thai Navy your turn to catch the parcel.

Posted by slickmelb on May 8, 2015 13:56


I'm very pleased that something is going to be done about the greedy Patong Beach vendors. I got a nasty rope burn from a ski rope that a worker flicked up at me as it was being towed at high speed across the beach after sunset. They didn't even care. They have no regard for health and safety or the enjoyment of people who just want to walk on the beach.

Posted by Jill Devaney on May 8, 2015 14:01


To avoid the too controversial "MISUNDERSTANDING", used by too many civil servants when they are in the wrong, all commercial businesses should be banned from public beaches, and at large, all public lands such as National Forests and National Parks.
Compromises have been used only to abuse authorities for greedy profits.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on May 8, 2015 14:24


The governor, the mayor or someone can explain me why the jet ski and the parasailing can trade on the beach and other Thai people not?
Should we look for something else down there?

Posted by Manu on May 8, 2015 15:19


Well said, Alan in respect to the 'pass the buck' policies here. It's all so dysfunctional that it becomes almost cartoon-like to an 'outsider' (a status I possess for better or for worse and of which I am often reminded by locals). Also, well put Herbert: As I have said before, in my years of interviewing local officials, they almost all came out with the old chestnut: "Phuket is a world-class holiday destination." How could it be with such weak, backtracking, self-serving 'officials'? Phuket needs a huge kick up its 'official' arse and foreigners here are powerless to do that. Last month I moved away after 20 years on the island and now live in a community where taxi drivers don't sexually harass Chinese tourists and get away with a slap on the wrist; people don't haggle over beach lifesaver wages while locals drown; where drivers are actually courteous; where officials are actually responsible and don't run away when issues are raised. BTW Arun and with respect: I believe the expression is 'you cannot legislate righteousness'.

Posted by Sam Wilko on May 8, 2015 17:36


When was that picture taken?
Patong Beach does not look like this now.

Posted by Sherlock on May 8, 2015 17:50

Editor Comment:

Those pictures were all taken today. Perhaps you need to get out more, Sherlock. You need to learn about where you live.


"All mats and umbrellas are supposed to be confined to the 10 percent of the beach allocated for commercial purposes, ......leaving the other 90 percent for swimmers to use...... - but without umbrella"s.
Mmmnn, don't you mean for the jet skis and parasailers?

Posted by john on May 8, 2015 19:47

Editor Comment:

Jet-skis are not allowed on the beach. Parasailers . . . nobody has explained how they can be allowed to function and make private profit on public space. Some lies are probably being told about the ''popularity'' of these fun activities.


"believes that if jet-skis cannot be banned, all jet-ski owners should contribute to a cooperative fund to cover claims". The only reason they can't be banned is the vested interest of officials in the beach towns.
If there was a proper will, they could be controlled tomorrow.

Posted by john on May 8, 2015 19:50

Editor Comment:

What vested interests, john? Do you know something we don't? Or are you just repeating a myth?


Please, can someone explain why it is inpossible get rid of the jet-skies. In other places they are forbidden, why not on Phuket? thanks

Posted by observer on May 9, 2015 00:07


Beaches can still be nice with sunbeds and umbrellas occuping only 25% space of the sand count from high water measurement. All activities of watergames as watersking, waterjetbikes and water-paragliders should not be allowed at all beaches, but only at ONE beach, as a water game activity center.

Posted by Lars on May 9, 2015 02:22

Editor Comment:

If you ever saw Phuket's prime beaches when sunbeds were on them, you would not suggest a 25 percent return. The problem is that you either have sunbeds and umbrellas and commercial operators, or you ban them. The minute there's a compromise, the whole problem begins all over again . . . and the governor is now discovering.


Hi Sam Wilko, now that you have left Thailand, (obviously) what country have you moved to? Sounds nice...

Posted by Tim on May 9, 2015 09:44


I was at Patong beach yesterday May 8 around 4 pm and these umbrellas weren't there, nor any signs of the sand piles.

So if the picture was taken May 8, somebody has done a great job removing all proof of their existence.

Posted by Sherlock on May 9, 2015 12:36

Editor Comment:

As we constantly tell readers, Sherlock, change is inevitable. Did you walk the length of the beach the way I do when I go to Patong? Otherwise, you may not have a complete picture.


And the water was dirty brown yesterday, not blue as shown at the picture.

Posted by Sherlock on May 9, 2015 12:43

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you stick around the dirty bits, Sherlock. Try walking the whole beach. Someone should also tell you about tides . . . change is inevitable. Anyone who goes to a beach late in the afternoon and imagines the beach looked the same six hours earlier knows nuthin' about nuthin'. Don't waste my time.


I really don't understand why Phuket has all this problems with commercial activities on the beaches and other places don't. How and why did that come to happen over the last decades? I lived on Samui for the last years and yes, it can be rather full in high season, yes there are a few vendors and jet skis - but the rows of beachchairs and the amount of commercial activity (including scams) are nowhere as bad as they were in Phuket. Which is probably the reason it's all still there but in Phuket the beaches needed to be 'cleaned up'. A clean up that is very inconsistent... Most tourists, the main source of income, would appreciate moderate, regulated(!) amounts of comfort and commercial services, yet are annoyed about the scams, touts and garbage that are still all around Phukets beaches. This is a lose-lose situation for all parties involved. No one wants to lose face over a badly planned and enforced cleanup operation, so I guess nothing will have changed the next time I visit my friends in Phuket.

Posted by Leia on May 11, 2015 08:58


Hi Tim

To answer your question: I have left Phuket and now live in Issan.

Posted by Sam Wilko on May 11, 2015 10:41


Mayor Chalerlak has posted a large notice providing visitors with the telephone numbers of Phuket's honorary consuls should they find themselves involved in the kind of intimidation that comes with disputes about jet-ski damages. " so they knows about this problem enough to put a sign up to warn people and giving a number to call if u get into this intimidating situation, its like " yes we can't solve the issue given by local thugs and criminals so if or when u get threaten and or beaten by or local thugs call this number and we might answer... in the meantime ur on ur own,, enjoy one of the worlds best beach. / Phuket authorities ... unbelievable ..

Posted by frog on May 11, 2015 10:50


I talked to friends yesterday, who have been coming to Patong every year for many years. This year they stayed in Kamala at a hotel with a wooden deck and loungers and just a few steps down to the beach, so that was OK. They went in to Patong two times, once for a birthday party, and they found the place disgusting. So in answer to my question they said never again Phuket.
It will be interesting to see what happens next season. I doubt they are alone with this sentiment.

Posted by Remarkable on May 11, 2015 15:32


Very funny, i was on the beach that day, you even photographed the chair (at the Sabai Beach) I rented. Well honestly said, being in a hotel with Pool, and having the possibility to get somewhere shadow, it's okay like that. But high season will be hard to survive with this equipment. Being in Patong since more than 20 years every spring i noticed this time there were nearly zero westerners around there. Many people I talked with all gave the same reply, - no business for a couple of days in row - is what they face currently. I don't think this is a good development for them.

Posted by Fred on May 12, 2015 17:59

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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