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Business is good for Patong jet-ski operators but not for everyone

Navy Leads Beach Raid: Photo Special

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
PHUKET: A Royal Thai Navy patrol led a surprise raid on Phuket's Patong beach today to catch illegal vendors or snare salespeople acting outside the new rules.

With some irony, the raid came on the day the tranfer of Governor Nisit Jansomwong become public with his replacement, former Phuket vice governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada, now the man to decide the fate of Phuket's beaches soon after October 1.

It will not be easy.

Today's combined raid deploying the Royal Thai Navy, the Army's Internal Security Operations Command, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and Kathu District officials took place without the knowledge of the Mayor of Patong or Patong Municipal officers.

Local council enforcement officials turned up soon enough, though, alerted by vendors to the raid.

Clearly, disputes continue about what the rules should be and who should enforce them.

The Navy delegation was told that the rows of umbrellas and mats stretched out along the beach, with the sand piled up to make a rough pillow, was what Patong Mayor Chalermlak Kebsub believed was the best interpretation of Governor Nisit's ''10 percent'' rule.

Under the departing governor's experiment, 10 percent of each Phuket beach is supposed to be the limit of commercial activity.

However, there's only supposed to be a single umbrella and mat on each beach advertising services, unless tourists are already on them.

Debate also continues over a report by Prince of Songkhla University researchers that challenges some of the governor's assumptions about what tourists want.

Phuketwan reporters watched the raid in progress on Patong today and came to the same old conclusion: nothing is going to change unless there is proper management and enforcement.

The university researchers have at least proposed a sensible management plan - taking the local councils out of their present role.

It's also Phuketwan's view that the ''10 percent'' concept cannot hope to work during high season, when hundreds of tourists will want space of their own under an umbrella on Patong and other popular beaches.

The idea might succeed at Phuket's least popular beaches. But a much better idea is to ban all commerce and let tourists bring their own umbrellas and chairs at all beaches.

Vendors were told today that the Navy raid was the last warning they will have.

The next raid will be serious and enforce the regulations.

Today, Patong remained a chaotic place, with motorcycles being ridden along the footpath and parasailers taking out as much space as their beach business demands.

The only remaining question is, of course, precisely what those regulations will be when the new governor decides what should happen.

What was blatantly obvious today was that the jet-ski operators now control Patong beach, once one of the island's premier swimming destinations.

To see jet-skis parked under the trees and on the sand was to know who rules this beach.

To watch as one jet-ski then another zipped parallel along the beach close to shore only warned us - if nobody else - of the injuries and fatalities that are likely to come unless jet-skis are banned from Phuket, as they have been in neighboring Krabi and Phang Nga provinces.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I think that the jetsskies and boats should be banned from the beaches.
Or at least be only in one end of the beach, and please not so many.
I it so annoying with the noise and polution....

Posted by Merete on September 8, 2015 19:57


Is 10 percent commercial activities more legal than for example 50 percent commercial activities?

And are mats more legal than chairs?

If not then it would make more sense to use the upper side of the beach for rented beach chairs, which the silver tourists are able to sit on.

With a proper management, that could make an a hardly needed income for the public sector to pay the lifeguards, save a lot of tuk-tuk traffic on the streets and solve the problem to get rid of cheap broken beach sets at tourists departure.

The fact that that some local authorities claims, that nobody can manage such a system, doesn't make this opportunity for combining happy tourists with public income a bad thing.

Public space rented out to vendors works perfect in many countries, so if this can't work on Phuket, then the problem perhaps is something else, than the concept itself.

Posted by Sherlock on September 8, 2015 20:04


Clearly,the jet ski operators have very influential friends

Posted by Paul on September 8, 2015 20:26


A couple of wonderful quotes in this report which had me chuckling:

"Local council enforcement officials turned up..." surerly that should read "Local business support officials......"

The most amusing part was that this was the last warning to be given and next time we will be serious! That's hilarious. I will remember that if I am ever caught committing a crime by the police and tell them to just give me a warning, and next time they can be serious and arrest me.

What an absolute joke. How many warnings do people need to be given? This continued non enforcement just gives more and more power to the law breakers.

Posted by Discover Thainess on September 8, 2015 22:08


I like the way the "locals" called the local government to help them.

Is this a case of My Dad's bigger than your Dad?

To which the answer was...maybe?

Posted by Tbs on September 8, 2015 23:04


Before the clearing of the beaches Phuket was a Paradise for beach-holydays. Now its just chaos and a big mess. Well done!

Posted by Chuck on September 9, 2015 01:28

Editor Comment:

Paradise? Unless you wanted to go for a walk along the beach at high tide. Then you would have a problem because of the structures in the way. And at Surin in May last year, the ''entrepreneurs'' were already dividing up the beach among themselves for ''development.'' Phuket is better now.


Went to patong and parked at the beach front the other week. I don't go there often and was shocked at the jet skis zipping along the shore. Totally unsafe for swimmers. After lunch and shopping. Returned to my car to find a nice scratch all down the side. Then realised I parked between the taxis !
With so many wonderful beaches in Phuket just avoid patong beach.

Posted by Conquestador on September 9, 2015 06:04


@ Conquestador. Thanks for remind me that nothing have changed in the mind of the "transportcrew" in patong. Have had two motorbike saddles cut (very common method) and one car scratched. That even after being extra precocious where I parked and thought I was ok. It really feels bad because after all the criminals are occupying the space.

Posted by A Joe on September 9, 2015 08:42


Well Phuket is done for me. It's just getting more and more ridiculous. The army has taken power, but they are not able to solve the issues with the jetski Operators?

Posted by Domi on September 9, 2015 13:05


I agree with you ED Phuket is better now. The tourist stay away and on the beach you can see the natural beauty of the jet-skis. What do you want moore for a tourist-destination, I mean just prfect!

Posted by Chuck on September 10, 2015 13:31

Thursday June 20, 2024
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