''It would not be possible for all commerce to vanish from the sand and to leave the jet-skis and parasailers,'' Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat told a meeting yesterday of Patong beach stakeholders.
With some of the participants walking out of the gathering at Patong council offices, it became evident that an agreement between beach vendors, umbrella hirers and other may be impossible to achieve, let alone maintain.
The jet-ski and parasail operators are among the few businesses prospering in Patong at present, with the removal of hundreds of sunbeds and higher prices in bars and other venues being blamed for the west coast hub's drop in popularity.
About 70 people met with the vice governor yesterday, including officials and representatives of various beach groups.
There are 180 massage workers, 59 umbrella and mat hirers - mats have replaced sunbeds - and 92 mobile vendors claiming registration for work of Patong beach.
The ''10 percent zone,'' proposed by former Governor Nisit Jansomwong, has been rejected by a research team from Prince of Songkhla University and Phuketwan.
Both organisations predict the concept will become unenforceable.
Phuketwan's alternative suggestion is to allow tourists to bring their own unbrellas and chairs and sit where they like, and service them with mobile vendors who may only sell food and drink.
Vice Governor Chokdee told yesterday's meeting that the ''10 percent zone'' was a ''treat'' for the beach poor from the National Council for Peace and Order.
''Many residents continue to ask 'Why are you bringing them back when they are illegal?''' the vice governor said.
Vice Governor Chokdee asked whether the beach workers were poor and one person responded that there was a time when beach workers were poor, but not any longer.
When asked why beach workers were allowed at other destinations in Thailand, Kathu's district chief said: ''If you think that other places are more suitable, move to where you will find contentment.''
About this stage of the meeting, between 10 and 15 people walked out.
Beach workers could expect to earn at least 500 baht a day - the minimum wage is 300 baht - but there was serious discord now between the vendors and the umbrella hirers.
The ''10 percent zone'' is supposed to mean people either hiring umbrellas or selling food and drink, not both.
But one group has accused the other of doing both. With umbrella hirers, it was easy for customers to pay for food and drink at the same time, the meeting was told.
In response to a question about why he was reluctant to let tourists bring their own equipment and sit anywhere, Vice Governor Chokdee said he was concerned that a rival group, selling or hiring smaller umbrellas, could be established to meet the needs of tourists.
The vice governor made the point that the future of jet-skis and parasalers on Patong beach hinged on the creation of a workable ''10 percent zone.''
There is no beach on Phuket at which the ''10 percent zone'' is working as intended, or likely to work.