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Phuket's Surin beach awaits the outcome of further talks

Phuket NY Party Turns Back Clock to Backpack Years

Saturday, December 8, 2012
PHUKET: The proposed two-day New Year party for 50,000 people at Phuket's Surin beach could be halted at any time if the existing agreement is not kept, says local council Mayor Ma-Ann Samran.

Mayor Ma-Ann repeated that the Permanent Secretary of Cherng Talay had already signed an agreement with the party's organisers for the event to go ahead.

''But if something goes wrong, who is going to be responsible?'' Mayor Ma-Ann asked today. ''I would like to see the Phuket Governor call a meeting.''

It's believed the mayor will retain all the documentation relating to the event and the permissions required.

Mayor Ma-Ann said that he spoke to Governor Maitree Inthusud yesterday at the opening of a new tourist centre in Surin, close to the proposed site for the massive party.

''The governor told me that the Chief of Phuket Marine 5 has approved the floating stage as proposed by the organisers,'' Mayor Ma-Ann said.

The World Class Electronic Music Festival aims to attract 50,000 fans to a beach where families from all over the world traditionally spend a relaxing Christmas-New Year at nearby resorts.

While most of the performers said to be booked for the event are top-line international acts, questions remain about the logistics.

An open letter to the Phuket governor in October from Surin's top five-star resorts says the idea for the event is good, but Surin beach is the wrong venue and New Year is the wrong time.

Most resorts on Phuket are full in what's known as ''peak'' season and vacant seats on all incoming flights are rare. Room rates are also at their peak.

According to reports, the two-star Tune Hotels brand is the event's hotel sponsor. Plans are also said to be underway to accommodate fans in tents.

Observers ask how Phuket's image will be improved by turning back the clock from its present five-star appeal to the 1980s, when backpackers were Phuket's visitors.

During a long day of meetings last month that resolved nothing, one of the resort general managers asked the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Phuket Office, Chanchai Doungjit, whether the TAT supported the event.

''We do if you guys do,'' was his response.

The event has plenty of in-principle support from tourism-related organisations, but the point made by the general managers still holds: Surin appears to be the wrong place and New year appears to be the wrong time.

Governor Maitree, who is responsible for the safety and security of all residents and tourists, has yet to respond to the resort general managers' open letter, written in late October.

The great unanswerable question is the reaction of the local Muslim residents to having their sleep disturbed over two days and nights on December 30 and December 31.

It appears to also be of concern to Mayor Ma-Ann, who today was not prepared to vouch for locals taking the noise and the disruption lying down.

There has also been no public statement from the organisers about HM The King's pavilion, erected five years ago in celebration of his 80th birthday, which sits in the middle of an area that is bound to be surrounded by exuberant partying music fans.

Surin was selected as the site for the royal pavilion because it was one of the places the King visited when he toured Phuket with HM The Queen for the first time in 1959.

Lack of an ongoing conversation between the resort general managers, the Governor and the organisers remains a concern, with New Year drawing closer.

After last month's stalemate meetings, a spokesperson for the organisers said: ''We definitely want to proceed with them [the resorts]. We don't want to proceed without them.''

Logistics remain a mystery. A quick calculation reveals that 50,000 people would require 1500 large buses to transport them to Surin, and 1500 large buses to transport them out again.

Mini-buses are Phuket's transport of preference. More than 3000 trips would be required going in, and 3000 more coming out.

It's not known at this stage what arrangements have been made for directing traffic.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


One road in and out from the northeast and one from the southeast. Finally the Phuket traffic "system" comes to a halt, the Dolphins on the hill between Kamala and Patong not even there yet to tell people that they're neither close to in nor out. 747's on pontoons coming and going in Surin Bay?

Posted by juswunderin on December 8, 2012 15:25


I would like to know what arrangements have been made for 50,000 people all wanting to use the toilet. I can just imaging what the beach is going to look like over the two days. Not for me thanks!

Posted by Nick on December 8, 2012 15:48


When an event of this size is planned all of the arrangements for food, toilets, medical care, transport security etc are usually in place at least 6 mths before the event. In Surin the dangers are huge firstly the sea we all know the number of deaths that happen,well mix this with alcohol and drugs the dangers are massive. Concern for local people a lot of whom are Muslim and put up with a lot of western ways and never complain seems to have been overlooked. If you read back when this story first broke it was said it was free um not so. Yes I can go and get a pass but why should I have to do this when it is a public beach. I will be the first to omit it all looks very impressive but please say NO for the sake of Surin.
What would the procedure be for a Tsumami warning.
Just underpin like your comment about 747s

Posted by Granitebeetle on December 8, 2012 17:27


I've just returned home from a rare visit to Kamala Beach, I was having a swim at the end where the new Novotel hotel is being built and sadly the clear clean water was contaminated badly with human excrement, my daughter also complained to me about this issue 3 weeks ago, so imagine 50,000 people at Surin, with no proper toilet facilities.

Posted by Joy on December 8, 2012 18:07


Amazing three weeks before this giant event an no solid plans at all!

Somebody must know if there is hired bands, stages and electronics, tents, toilets, accommodation, transportation etc. etc.

This is not equipment for a garden party, which can be hired the day before the event. There must be some solid contracts made for this already, but where?

Posted by Sherlock on December 8, 2012 20:21


Where do 50,000 people go when the tide comes in?

Posted by Stuart on December 9, 2012 11:01


@ Stuart. The organisers will compensate the tide to stay away for the party days.

Posted by Robin on December 9, 2012 16:20


@ Stuart. They swim!

Posted by Sherlock on December 9, 2012 16:35


@Stuart. High tide on the 31st is at midnight and 3 days after the full moon it will be a very high tide. Come 1 am there will be a strong outgoing tide, hope they have the worlds biggest floating stage well anchored.

Lots of details like this don't seem to have been thought through very well

Posted by Soupdragon on December 9, 2012 16:54


@stuart and @soupdragon. In Thailand they are not familiar with Murphy's law. One off his famous ones is. IF Anything can go Wrong it Will go Wrong.

Posted by Phuketexpat on December 9, 2012 20:00


And where is this pontoon?

Posted by Paul on December 9, 2012 23:41


We are having a wedding here at this time and we booked last Dec 2011, now we have been thrown aside, not told anything about this party. We were lucky to accommodation then. Where are all these people going to stay. The toilet situation is a great concern. I feel very sorry for the people of Surin

Posted by Glenda on December 10, 2012 21:54


I really do find some of these comments amusing, even if they are not meant to be. Firstly, Toilets. Have any of you been reading about how many hotels get rid of their waste? It goes directly into the sea, just like the guy swimming in Kamala said. So this puts the onis on Hotels more so than the PArty Organisers. The party is a 1 off. The hotel's have been doing it for years.
Secondly, I do agree with safety must come first, but all this crap, and it is crap about another Tsunami coming over new year, is as likely as winning the Euro Lottery which is about 1 in 150 million.
Moving the party to a different time of year, doesn't make it a New Year's Party, does it? Which is when the western world celebrates the New Year.
Sorry for the lady who is having her Wedding at Surin, but like everyone keeps pointing out, there are many other beaches in Phuket. So people who are discriminating against a party being there can also discriminate against weddings being held on the beach as well.
I totally agree with the concerns about safety, and these need to be addressed and there needs to be transparency NOW about Security, toilets, access as well as more information that "international acts" at the party.
Rant over

Posted by Tbs on December 11, 2012 10:06


There will not be 50.000 people (from where, is it existing guests on island, who will be drawn in or is everybody arriving by boat) and there is also a countdown techno Party at Karon Beach as well 30-31/12 Maybe people will end up at wrong event:-)

Posted by hmm on December 11, 2012 11:00


Good article, although I' m not sure the backpacker vs 5 star comparison holds up. Of the nearly 40,000 hotel rooms on the island, only a very small percentage are 5 star. The vast majority of tourists who come here do so on a budget, and the greatest growth has been in the bottom of the barrel Russian and Chinese group tours. And I would bet that the majority of festival attendees will not be backpackers - the tickets are too expensive - but rather young independent travellers, a demographic that the island would do well to encourage. For all the commenters using the 50,000 people number, get real. Five thousand would be a more likely number of attendees at an event like this, and one that can be accommodated.

Posted by matt on December 11, 2012 12:27

Editor Comment:

The 50,000 figure was the target number quoted by the organisers, and used by everyone else because it has yet to be revised. The organisers also recognised Surin beach as an up-market beach destination. Backpackers these days have money. If the tent camp goes ahead, you will find more people in it carrying backpacks than suitcases.


May I ask, why not one of my factual comments were published? I mean, maybe not my best, but still infos for everyone?

Posted by Lena on December 11, 2012 15:38

Editor Comment:

We don't target individuals and, although it was a neat piece of research, the information was not central to the issues.

Wednesday July 17, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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