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Phuket's Surin beach, where New Year could bring 49,999 more people

Phuket New Year Party Sparks Beach Battle

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
PHUKET: A two-day electronic music New Year beach party for up to 50,000 people on Phuket is likely to fire up the debate about turning the Thai holiday island's public beaches to private profit.

Organisers of the December 30-31 party at Surin beach on Phuket announced yesterday that the event was expected to attract as many as 300,000 people to Phuket over the NY holiday period.

Celebrity Paris Hilton flew to Bangkok for the announcement and will be part of Phuket's 48-hour New Year, along with well-known international and Thai electronic musicians, DJs and celebrities.

Organisers say they will have the whole of Surin's 800 metre long ''beautiful beach'' for the event, with a 70-metre by 20-metre stage floating in the sea offshore.

What the organisers, Sydictive Element, did not reveal yesterday in Bangkok was the financial arrangement that provided them with the rights to stage the event on a public beach.

Environmentalists and well-heeled residents in villas around Surin beach have become increasingly concerned about the use of the beach and its surrounding public park space for commercial profit.

It is not known who approved the use of the public Phuket beach for a massive private event. New Phuket Governor Maitree Inthusud is expected to raise the project as an issue tomorrow.

The governor has moved his scheduled weekly Tuesday Morning Session with Phuket administrators and officials to tomorrow because today is a holiday for bureaucrats.

News of the Phuket New Year event emerged yesterday with a public announcement being made in Bangkok and reported initially in the Thai media.

Supacheep Wanchai, Director of Sydictive Element, said that Surin beach on Phuket had been chosen because it was not too long but could accommodate 50,000 people.

''The area is divided into zones of sand and grass,'' he said. ''We expect to have many Hollywood stars, people who are world-renowned, to join us.''

Among artists said to be already booked for the event are LMFAO, Basement Jaxx and Alex Gaudino.

The event will begin at 1 pm on December 30 and end sometime on January 1, Khun Supacheep said.

Today the Mayor of Cherng Talay, Mar-Ae Samran, told Phuketwan he was aware of the New year event, which would be free and open to all.

''We are going to announce this soon to the local Phuket media but I don't know when,'' he said. ''I need to talk to the Phuket Governor first.

''We want to promote Surin beach. It's a beautiful beach but we need more activities on the beach. Our aim is to hold more activities like this one on Surin beach.''

When Phuketwan recently questioned the mayor about the construction of a second beach club on the Surin shorefront, he told us that he had no idea about the community benefits from the Diamond Beach Club.

Mayor Mar-Ae said that 32 local residents held what are known as Nor Sor Rol titles to public land along the foreshore at Surin beach.

''We gain nothing from the shorefront beach clubs,'' he said. ''We also have no power to do anything.''

Some guests booking nearby resorts during Phuket's peak holiday season are expected to disapprove of the disruption likely to occur this Christmas-New Year.

It's likely to take at least a week to set up and dismantle the infrastructure necessary to cater for 50,000 people.

It is also not known what provision has been made for security with Phuket police. Phuket - like the rest of Thailand - has a zero drugs tolerance policy, so strict enforcement is likely to be applied.

Traffic control details have also not been made public.

A growing number of beach clubs along Surin and other once-pristine Phuket beachfronts have recently raised the issue of whether the beaches are still ''public.''

Vendors also make large amounts of money from holidaymakers on the sands at all of Phuket's west coast beaches during the November-April high season.

Next to none of that money is spent on beach maintenance or environmental protection. Phuket officials have lately raised ''sustainability'' as a key issue for Phuket's future.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand held a two-night beach party known as the Royfest at Karon beach, south of Surin and Patong, in 2010.

Although it was enjoyed by the thousands who attended, the noise and the traffic delays as the event was set up then deconstructed led to the idea of public beach parties being suspended until now.

The recent cancellation of the highly regarded Phuket Blues and Rock Festival for 2013 for want of a venue and the arrival of new beach clubs on several Phuket shorefronts indicates that Phuket's future may lie as the electronic music capital of Southeast Asia.

A countdown clock on the online site for the Surin New year party today records that there are just 67 days to go.

Although the mayor says the event is free, tickets are being offered on the sydictiveelement.com site for 2000 baht each before October 31 and 3000 baht ''at the door.''

A 20-person ''private floating villa,'' one of four available, costs two million baht. Ten ''private beach cabanas'' are on offer for 1.5 million baht each.

Two hundred tables for four in the ''Deluxe Zone'' are available for 15,000 baht each.

Phuketwan believes that Phuket's public beaches will be privatised and eventually destroyed if left in the hands of local authorities. We advocate the creation of a single Phuket Beach Authority to manage them with consistency, and to put all income back into protection and maintenance.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Totally unwanted. Tickets are for sale at 2000 baht on ticketmaster, not free. There is no reason to believe Surin can safely support a 50,000 person crowd for two days. What is the transportation?

Where are the facilities? Where is the security? This needs to be stopped or at least moved to a part of the island better suited for this type of event.

The Mayor is very misguided and short sighted by wanting to "promote" the area in this way.

Posted by local boy on October 23, 2012 10:51

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And will this 'international two day dance party' event still have to end at 2am (legally 12 midnight outside of entertainment zones isn't it ??) each night.

Can really see that working out well.

Posted by LivinLOS on October 23, 2012 11:20

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Just worried about security. Heard some tourists were abused in some way in a beach party with similar objectives. The tides can turn and be negative PR for Phuket. Non-stop partying can be a vehicle for substance abuse.

Posted by SilverSurfer on October 23, 2012 11:59

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Well said and all the key issues that the organizers failed to address are highlighted.

It would indeed be very interesting to know who paid how much and to whom to be allowed to hijack a public beach for 1 week in peak season.

Posted by Andrew on October 23, 2012 12:12

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"I need to talk to the Phuket Governor first."

Hopefully the governor will show he has the power to put the residents of Phuket first and he will cancel this event.

Posted by Buster on October 23, 2012 14:20

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50000 x 2000 bt=100 million baht! So what do the partygoers get for this? Free accom; parking, food, drinks, entertainment? Don't think so.The organisers shd be made to clear the beach of all the crap left over afterwards if this does go ahead at least. The venue's far too small & there's only main road there so queues would block all traffic using the beach road (incl. visa run buses!).

Posted by Anonymous on October 23, 2012 15:21

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Does this mean that everyone who visits Surin Beach (as i have done for the last 10 years) on these 2 nights will this year have to pay to use a 'PUBLIC' beach? Who are the organisers? Where will the money go?

Posted by maximus on October 23, 2012 16:19

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Oh this event will most definitely go on....Once the "officials" figure out how to divide up the pie, it should be a no brainer, regardless of enviornmental concerns, concerns to local residents, safety, existing laws, etc etc...This is a money maker as well as free exposure....Unfortunately, the show will go on!

Posted by zig on October 23, 2012 16:46

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Turtles used to come ashore at Surin Beach to lay eggs in the not so distant past.

Posted by Hugh Jarse on October 23, 2012 17:46

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Cool I was going to come and play my bagpipes for Auld lang syne and a couple of other tunes there. Well that frees me up. Hello Khao Lak.

Posted by Dun on October 23, 2012 18:36

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Has anyone checked the tides very high at midnight on the 31st but good for those with a yacht how would they be legally allowed to keep them away

Posted by Michael on October 23, 2012 21:47

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Come on people, whats with all the doom and gloom. For once Phuket is on par with Singapore with a high scale event, why not have some faith and embrace change. Yes there are issues, and I am sure that if someone is putting on a party of this scale they have thought about that, but at the end of the day this is gonna be one hell of a party and great PR for Phuket. Come on, turn your frowns upside down and enjoy the party....

Posted by Jay Leshark on October 24, 2012 08:07

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This event will be the last nail in the coffin for Surin "Beach".

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on October 24, 2012 10:29

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@Jay Leshark: Yes, compare with Singapore.

ZoukOut in it's twelfth year is just reaching 30,000 people. The even is well planned. It is held in the remote Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island, far from the residential areas of the city. Yet transportation, facilities, health teams, and security are excellent. IDs are checked preventing access to minors. It only runs at night so the beach is still accessible during the day.

Plan this event to the level of ZoukOut, hold it at the appropriate spot, and still allow holiday makers access to the public beach. Then this event would be very welcome.

Posted by local boy on October 24, 2012 10:34

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Patong is the party place of the island.

Let's concentrate these kind of events there, and leave other areas of Phuket undisturbed.

And yes, let's please make sure this is all done legally.

Posted by stevenl on October 24, 2012 10:52

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Whilst I am not against these beach parties Surin beach is not the place for it. The beach is for everyone and I wonder will I have to pay to sit on the sand and let my lantern go into the moonlit sky? Techno music screaming out, the beauty of Surin beach will be destroyed forever. Will the local Thai people still be able to have their stalls in the car park? This is totally wrong for Surin. Go to Patong, please.

Posted by Anonymous on October 24, 2012 13:15

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I feel not comfortable at/with big events and parties like this one. I only enjoy New Years fire works from a safe (large) distance. I already enjoy for this reason Patongs New Years fire works for 10 years from its Viewpoint Blue Point. (I dislike fireworks strongly outside the traditional New Year). I do admit a New Years party from this Magnitude should NOT be held in Surin. Patong would be a lot more logical and suitable (less influentioned by waves and tides I believe). But also Patong can NOT handle or cope with such a huge amount of additional Partying people. NO way the extra traffic can be organised in a SAFE and responsible way. PLEASE forget it on such a SHORT notice. Beach Road in Patong is TOO congested from Xmas till January 15. I know it, I am depending on it daily.

Posted by PhuketExpat on October 24, 2012 18:27

Editor Comment:

There is room for this kind of New Year celebration but it's misplaced in Surin and perhaps even on Phuket. The people with money it's aimed at are the first people who would say ''Please take it somewhere else.'' It's a total misreading of what Surin beach and Phuket should be about. Involving Paris Hilton is an indication that it's not a serious idea. Nobody has thought hard about anything, except the money.


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