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Future of Phuket's Jet-Skis Hangs on Success of Patong '10 Percent Zone'

Saturday, December 5, 2015
PHUKET: The island's jet-ski operators and parasail hirers have been told that their future hinges on the success of the ''10 percent zone'' experiment on Patong beach.

''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.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Perhaps a telling indicator of the drop in popularity, especially among Scandinavian visitors, is the return ticket my friend just booked from Scandinavia to Phuket.

It's on a legacy 4 star (Skytrax) airline in economy with all taxes and fees included Bt 17650. This for departure end of next week and return right after NY.

What used to be absolute top peak season in the cold climate countries commanding premium prices for airfare is now being dumped.

How much the farce being played out on Phuket beaches has contributed to this is difficult to say but I think it's safe to say it has not helped.

Posted by Herbert on December 5, 2015 12:11


They need about 70 ++ new workers to the new Macron they build in Kata, other side of the gas station in Kata, come and search the job, you'll get the job lazy vendors.

Posted by Bjorn Ronningen on December 5, 2015 12:52


If the jet skis are so reputedly hated by so many, how is that business prospering? Some one (more than one) must like them & must be paying their high rental costs. Also there does not seem to be any disputes being reported about them any more. Is it a new Chinese & / or Russian market that does not complain?

Posted by Logic on December 5, 2015 13:13

Editor Comment:

Touts is the answer, Logic. Touts scouring the beach, the shorefront and Soi Bangla for jet-ski customers. There are fewer Australian and European customers to comp[lain about problems.


The beach problems are just one of the problems afflicting Phuket. It's the taxi rip offs, the tuk tuk rip offs and the overall state of the Island that is the problem.

People on holidays want a clean and safe beach, reasonable transportation costs and a friendly, natural environment. Phuket has become another dirty, rip off destination. A lot different from the idyllic and peaceful place it once was.

It has become everything officials promised it would never become. Bad management and a sense of entitlement from locals have sent regulars elsewhere.

No matter what system they put in place, certain people always want to corrupt it and turn it into their personal meal ticket. Nobody ever works for the greater good of the Island.

Posted by Arun Muruga on December 5, 2015 13:17


A tourist asked me to explain the beach rules and I tried to explain him the history about local regulations.

He just looked at me as I were crazy and actually I felt rather embarrassed, because somehow I represent Thailand from his point of view.

I realized, that is is impossible to explain the connection between Thai law, local regulations and the ever changing decrees from governor's office published in local press.

But two things we could agree on, that was, this mess is not good for tourism in Thailand, and that a system with public renting out small limited spaces at backside of beaches, for chairs, works perfect in many tourist destinations.

Posted by Sherlock on December 5, 2015 14:05


The problem was never the beach loungers or umbrellas or people selling food and drink. It worked for many years without problems.

The problems started when people actually thought they owned sections of the beach and sought to stake out their turf with loungers to monopolize all trade in that area of the beach.

Then when Pla seafood at Surin built their breakwater and moved lock, stock and barrel onto the sand, everybody else also wanted the same deal and set about claiming their part of the beach. From there it spread like cancer.

None of it could have happened without the collusion and blessing of local officials. Now they've gone to the complete opposite degree, banning everything when it should have never been allowed to get out of control like it did in the first place.

It's pointless to even try to offer solutions as the real problem gets back to corruption. Every problem on Phuket never gets resolved because of corruption. As long as officials can be bought - nothing will ever change.

Posted by Arun Muruga on December 5, 2015 15:36


They cant seem to strike a evenly balanced plan so that no one group is not extremely favored, every group wants the biggest grab to the detriment of another, how about some community consultation with the tourists their stakeholders too.

Posted by slickmelb on December 5, 2015 21:39


So can i or can i not bring my own chair & umbrella to the beach ed ? confused again

Posted by reg on December 6, 2015 09:26

Editor Comment:

You may bring your own chair and umbrella. Just be prepared to reject invitations to sit in the ''10 percent zone.''

Sunday October 2, 2022
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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