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The days of the sunbeds appear to be over at Surin and other Phuket beaches

Envoys to Meet Phuket Governor

Friday, September 5, 2014
PHUKET: The future of sunbeds and the state of Phuket's beaches are likely to top the agenda when the island's honorary consuls meet with Governor Maitree Intrusud in 10 days' time.

It's the first meeting between the consuls and the governor since November. The envoys are expected to praise most of the changes that have taken place on Phuket and in Thailand since General Prayuth Chan-ocha took charge on May 22.

One awkwardness is that European Union diplomats are not permitted to meet with the military because of the EU's objections to the coup, so the envoy's views on the introduction of meter taxis and the beach clearances may have to be conveyed later by Governor Maitree to the Army and the Royal Thai Navy.

It's also not clear as yet whether the meeting will be an open, transparent forum of the kind held by Governor Maitree's predecessors in the international style that they welcomed every three months or a closed, secretive gathering of the kind preferred by Governor Maitree on the rare occasions when he has met the consuls.

In the closed gatherings, Governor Maitree has not been able to answer all the consul's questions but in the open forums, with all the key organisations represented, the officials responsible have been able to respond immediately.

The number of drownings at Phuket's beaches and fatalities on Phuket's roads appear to be well down on last year, so the governor will have plenty of good news to convey.

Phuketwan believes a number of envoys will be seeking to know whether or not sunbeds and umbrellas have gone from Phuket's beaches forever. Clearances since June have seen sunbeds and umbrellas removed from Patong, Surin, Kamala, Kata and Karon so that they are now found only at the edges of privately-managed foreshores.

Older visitors especially are understood to have complained to envoys in considerable numbers. However, the military's clearing of the public beaches has won overall praise and tourists so far appear to be coping with towels or mats in place of sunbeds.

The problem is that to allow a small number of sunbeds back on the beaches would inevitably lead to their widescale return. The classic Phuket formula follows the Three Cs: Conflict leads to Compromise and Compromise leads to Corruption.

Phuketwan's suggestion would be for the military to hold firm to its clear public beaches philosophy. Tourists who disappear this high season will be replaced by those who appreciate the natural appeal of the beaches next high season.

The consuls, though, are also likely to make the point that some of Phuket's beaches are dirty - and dangerous in places - because the wreckage from shorefront restaurants and beach clubs has not been thoroughly removed.

Governor Maitree will want the beaches looking perfect, too, because the Fourth Asia Beach Games are being held on Phuket from November 14-21.

As Phuketwan has frequently suggested, the long-term solution is to create a Phuket Beach Authority with the Royal Thai Navy at its core.

Officers in those brilliant white uniforms may be needed at Phuket's beaches from November on to explain to unhappy visitors where those umbrellas and sunbeds have gone. There will be no vendors at many of the beaches to answer the tourists' questions.

Governor Maitree is also likely to be asked what's being planned for the tenth anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami on December 26. There were 5400 deaths, and the big wave was the worst natural disaster ever experienced by Thailand . . . and Sweden. About half of the deaths were people from more than 40 countries.

Although tragic in every aspect, the tsunami made Phuket a household word around the world, even though Khao Lak to the north suffered 10 times as much in deaths and damage.

The awareness, though, of what had happened so soon after Christmas 2004 triggered an unprecedented outpouring of generosity in the days that followed as the tolls rose and as the levels of suffering in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka became apparent. About 220,000 people perished.

While the deaths deserve to be commemorated, Phuketwan has suggested that the many instances of heroism, the generosity of Thais and the stunning forensic achievement in identifying 90 percent of the 3000 nameless bodies should be celebrated.

If the military government is wise, it will issue tsunami medals 10 years on to those connected to the most outstanding acts of gallantry and community endeavor. There will never be a better time to mark the extraordinary capacity of the Thais involved to behave with courage and compassion in the face of a disaster.

It will be a shame if such a timely opportunity is missed.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


You are truly ignorant. Visitors who appreciate nature will replace them. There are far more beautiful places than phukets west coast Beach's. ( phi phi?) Tourists come for the atmosphere and price, being able to sit on the beach and not be ripped off by 5 star hotels for food and drink.
Comprises leads to corruption? Install the navy to control and council permits to manage it in reasonable numbers. No corruption and tax to pay for management of the beaches and all can be happy.
Without this there will be no Thais for tourist to meet, not to mention the upcoming crime wave with thousands unemployed.
Most resorts employ Burmese at near slave wages.
Every action has equal and opposite reaction.
Getting rid of corruption is number one. Then proper legislation to manage a compromise or Phuket is stuffed.
Why are 5 star resorts allowed to be on the beach.but no Thai family run businesses? And yes they should be able to pay rent to councils under the watchful eye of the navy. One breach of licence your gone, no more corruption!

Posted by Anonymous on September 5, 2014 12:55

Editor Comment:

Which five-star resorts are ''on the beach,'' nameless person?


Club med, Dusit, angsana. Outright to name a few.

Posted by Anonymous on September 5, 2014 14:18

Editor Comment:

None of those resorts are ''on the beach.''


Hoping that the military holds firm on the absence of sunbeds & umbrellas. Those who don't like it, do us all a favour & go elsewhere.. Beaches looking so much better now

Posted by Nick on September 5, 2014 14:55


On the beach? Centara Grand

Posted by Peter on September 5, 2014 15:19

Editor Comment:

All those resorts are on the shore beside the beach.


Wow Ed,
clearly some of your readers have no idea what the are talking about. Don't know how you do it. By the way how many marketing dollars do the resorts spend internationally to bring the tourists here? I am sure "nameless person" and Peter have no idea!!
PS. I know of no internationally branded hotel that employees foreign workers at "slave wages"! Guess now we know who is ignorant don't we.

Posted by Anonymous on September 5, 2014 16:34


Correct, but in high season Centara Grand has sunbeds ON the beach. Why? because the garden is too small.

Posted by Peter on September 5, 2014 16:46


I'am talking about sunbeds, not about marketing dollars.

Most tourists want to relax on a sunbed in the shade of an umbrella instead of relaxing on just a towel without an umbrella.

Posted by Peter on September 5, 2014 17:28

Editor Comment:

This is about protecting Thailand's beaches for future generations, not about giving some tourists what they want. Three out of every four tourists prefer the beaches without sunbeds, according to a recent newspaper poll, so you may prefer the sunbeds but you clearly cannot speak for the majority. Saving the beaches for the public and ending the privatisation that could only have ended unhappily is what the exercise was all about. Thailand's beaches now have an assured future as tourist attractions. The relatively small number of sunbed lovers will inevitably squeal loudly. Their hedonistic pleasure, though, was gained at too high a cost to Thailand.


Will the tourists be allowed to carry a portable sunbed and umbrella, to the beach and take it back home when leaving the beach?
What about the jet ski's ? Next to the noisy clubs, this is the biggest problem that spoils the beauty of a beach...I do not read anything about this...

Posted by Anonymous on September 5, 2014 18:30

Editor Comment:

Yes, BYO sunlounger and umbrella. Jet-skis are on the to-do list, we believe.


In your opinion sunbeds are harming the beach. A remarkable idea.

Only very few tourists read the newspaper online. The majority of the voters are expats. Ask the tourists themselves. At least three out of four prefer the sunbeds and the umbrellas. You speak for the majority of the expats not the majority of the tourists.

Posted by Peter on September 5, 2014 18:54

Editor Comment:

I don't speak for anyone except myself. The newspaper separates expats from tourists and Thais in its surveys, one vote per email address. I believe they had several thousand responses, enough for it to be genuine and taken as an indication of the way the broader audience thinks.

Do you happen to have any connection to a tourism-related business, or are you speaking purely as someone who can't tell right from wrong?


Dear Editor, honestly said, I can survive without a beach chair easily by using just a towel but the lack of shadow, on the beach is a problem not only to me. I can't understand what is hedonistic by using a chair and establishing a small well managed public service with umbrellas whereas real stupid and nature destroying things such as jet skis and parasailing are remaining there. One thing for me is sure, after the next democratic election, the sunbed business is starting again as it was before due to the lack of installing a reasonable solution by now.

Posted by fred on September 5, 2014 19:15

Editor Comment:

I wouldn't be so sure about a restart. Thousands of beachgoers in the hot Australian and California sun survive and have an enjoyable time at beaches there, mostly without shade. There are many varieties of broad-brimmed hats and learning to use one is a relatively simple process. We expect the jet-skis are on a to-do list.


Looks like a exciting new industry and income for hotels and guest houses the hire of umbrellas and banana lounges
(hefty deposit of course) some of you see despair does no one see a wanted service and business opportunity?

Posted by slickmelb on September 5, 2014 21:17


You say (speaking of the removal of chair vendors):
This is about protecting Thailand's beaches for future generations.
How exactly do beach chairs prevent the protection of the beaches? I can understand an argument that beach vendors are illegal (although I think it is a silly policy) but can you seriously argue that chairs harm the beaches?
The vendors cleaned the beaches which are getting filthy now.
And why do you rudely question the motivations of people who disagree with your views, suggesting they are connected with tourism related businesses and are morally dubious?

Posted by Ken Freed on September 5, 2014 21:22

Editor Comment:

Beach loungers provide beach vendors with - in some cases during high season - several thousand sitting duck customers who are subjected to a constant stream of salespeople interrupting their time in the sun. At some beaches, stalls have been built on the sand. As has been seen at Hua Hin, over time, commercial imperatives overcome public rights in Thailand. One restaurant at Surin had already staked out a large section of beach with tables, chairs, and doublebeds. Staff warned off those who objected. Over time, the sunbeds lead to a division of the sands among undesirable private enterprises. I do hope you understand. The point has been made over and over again. I grow weary of having to explain the obvious.


All our lives we grew up going to the beach in South Africa, and we all had to Carry chairs for the folks, the umbrellas , the wind breaker, and then the toys and a basket with tea, coffee risks etc. When it's how it is you bring your own and you don't have the pesky sales people.

Posted by Gregg P Cornel. on September 6, 2014 03:10

Editor Comment:



@ Gregg - coffee risks?

Posted by phonus balonus on September 6, 2014 08:55

Editor Comment:

One too many and you never know what could happen.


I went for a stroll this morning along Surin Beach. The scenery, the strong waves the sandy beach is a beautiful sight. However although the beach vendors and huts have been largely removed there still remains the occasional pile of garbage on the beach perimeter. The other eyesore is that the restaurants remaining on the opposite side of the beach walkway have unsightly rubble laden blocks as neighbours and it seems even some attempt to restore some lost property. Let's hope it gets cleaned up before the high season.

Posted by seht1912 on September 6, 2014 11:15


The only tourist connection I have are a lot of friends who visit Phuket every year. Friends who, just like me, enjoy the chairs and the umbrellas on the beaches for weeks or even months every year.

There is no harm to the beach when there is a well managed public service with chairs and umbrellas.

Thinking that Thai people cannot organise such public service (NOT my opnion!) is equal to saying that Thai people are corrupt.

Posted by Peter on September 9, 2014 20:38

Editor Comment:

Environmental experts will tell you that beaches are best kept as natural as possible. With the sunbed customers come private enterprises on public space. None of the money you spend goes towards properly maintaining the beaches for future generations - it all goes into private pockets. So the people who serve you are ripping off their fellow Thai citizens and eroding the heritage of future generations of Thais. Imagine the outcry in your country - wherever you are from - if a small group of people decided they could take over public land for their own personal profit. Most people in countries where beaches are prized understand this and do not need to have it explained to them. Lazing on a sunbed on some other country's beaches and being served whatever you want is part of a bygone era, like shooting lions and elephants on safaris. Best try a towel. You might find not being waited on hand and foot refreshing.


Who is talking about "With the sunbed customers come private enterprises on public space." No one else. PUBLIC SERVED is a possibility. Private served also but in that case only under STRICT RULES from the municipality.

Environmental experts will tell you that Phuket is best kept as natural as possible by closing the entire island. But it is 2014 now and millions of tourists want to enjoy Phuket and the beaches. The beaches from the brochures, including sunbeds.

Posted by Peter on September 9, 2014 22:08

Editor Comment:

Couldn't care less about brochures, Peter. They probably also tell you London is reasonably priced and New York is a quiet backwater. Yes, it's 2014. But that's all you get right. No municipality on Phuket knows the meaning of ''strict rules.'' Stop kidding yourself - the rest of us aren't so easily fooled.


Editor, can you please do a story as soon as you get word from the meeting? I am interested in knowing about the Sunbeds. Please don't be rude at me I am only asking and It is my right to like the sunbeds... OK?...

Posted by Readers on September 10, 2014 16:03

Editor Comment:



Reading your opinion I am not surprised that you have problems with the authorities. Have a good trip to Australia and enjoy the wonderful beaches there on your towel while we celebrate the return of the sunbeds and umbrellas on Phuket.

Posted by Kas on September 11, 2014 16:37


Posted by Peter on September 13, 2014 15:13

Editor Comment:

The person conducting this interview is someone with a financial interest in the restoration of the sunbeds at Patong beach. He should declare his personal involvement.


If a tourist was conducting this interview you should say Oh he is someone with a personal interest in the restoration of the sunbeds at Patong beach. He should declare his personal involvement.

Is it so difficult to imagine that there are a lot of people who want sunbeds on the beach?

If you want the interviewer to declare his involvement, it is only fair if you declare how may times you used the sunbeds editor.

Read Tripadvisor editor. There are just a few tourists who share your opinion.

Posted by Peter on September 15, 2014 02:56

Editor Comment:

This is a man who benefits financially from the sunbeds. The principle of independent reporting or at least declaring a financial interest seems to be another item missing from your moral code.

A local newspaper poll showed tourists, expats and residents all overwhelmingly in favor or removing the sunbeds, Peter. The beaches are public and belong to all Thais, The country has its beaches back, thank you, and would be wise to not give them away to private enterprise again in the future.


Editor, as you mention that majority of people are overwhelming in favor of removing of sunbeds/umbrellas, I am puzzled why than the jet skis and para sailings still able to spoil the beaches. Plus, in patong still ronking motorbikes on pedestrian walks, and beach road full with tuk tuks. NCPO seems to loose grip. Vendors and police are just in waiting mode until they all together can be ( financial) back to how it was. Patong is the test case. So far, not successful, of course, just the chairs and umbrellas. Hehehehe

Posted by Kurt on September 15, 2014 12:02

Editor Comment:

It's certainly a puzzle. But more action is likely and it could be that the best is being saved to last. No point in laughing inappropriately, Kurt. People might think you have a screw loose.


What about The principle of independent reporting in your articles editor? What about your moral code?

The local newspaper is in low season mainly if not almost only read by expats. So who are voting? The people who are going tot the beach for a walk, not the people who go the beach to relax there for hours.

How many times you used the sunbeds and the sunbeds on the beach editor?

It is as if I hear the pope talking about the way you are not allowed to have sex when I read your articles about sunbeds.

Posted by Peter on September 15, 2014 15:16

Editor Comment:

There is no reason to suspect that people who come to Phuket in high season cannot read and do not vote in online newspaper polls, Peter. I have enjoyed many days on a sunbed and I can see why it's time they went. The point is that the Thais no longer want them, Peter. Vote early, vote often, it will do no good.


Are there any updates for this meeting? Editor I know you are against sunbeds, I do hope you put your opinions aside and still publish news if they are coming back.

Posted by Readers on September 16, 2014 08:09

Editor Comment:

''Say it ain't so, Joe?'' Sorry, no sunbeds.


Read the minutes of the meeting.

No sunbeds YET.

There are several indications they will return before high season.

Posted by Peter on September 23, 2014 04:18

Editor Comment:

Wishful thinking, Peter.

Wednesday November 29, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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