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The updated version of the message tourists don't understand

UPDATE BYO Beach Chairs Are OK, Phuket Police Will Be Told at Special Meeting

Saturday, February 14, 2015
Updating All Day, Every Day

THE Commander of Royal Thai Navy 3, Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsamret, has called a meeting with senior officials and Phuket police for Sunday to make sure they understand that tourists are able to bring their own chairs to the beaches. Police at Patong had scheduled arrests and fines from Monday.

Original Report

PHUKET: Phuket police changed the wording of a ludicrous ''brochure'' handed out to tourists on Patong beach yesterday but apparently are still determined to make the whole tourist industry in Thailand seem foolish by arresting and fining beachgoers from Monday.

The mistake appears to be being made by senior police on the international holiday island who are misinterpreting rules laid out by the military government of Thailand and the Phuket Governor, Nisit Jansomwong.

He and the Commander of the Royal Thai Navy 3 base, Vice Admiral Saiyan Prasongsamret, both made it plain earlier this week that tourists may bring anything they like to Phuket's beaches, within reason - including umbrellas, chairs, food and beverages.

Yet police from Kathu Police Station, which oversees Patong, have been handing out fliers to tourists on the beach saying: ''No Summer Dream on Beach, Start 12 Feb. 2015.'' Then underneath in the Thai language it says: ''Not allowed to put the chairs on the beach.''

Some beachgoers were intelligent enough to work out that the obscure language means that beach chairs are now banned.

Today, new fliers emerged that showed a slightly better grasp of the English language: ''No beach bed do not put beach bed on beach start 12 Feb'' with some Thai language underneath.

The connection with February 12 appeared loose as officers said the arrests and fining of tourists who brought chairs to the beach would actually begin on February 16, which is Monday.

Any police officer who tries to arrest a tourist for bringing a beach chair to Patong beach on Monday is likely to achieve instant fame - for making Thailand look foolish.

The problem appears to be a breakdown in communications between the Navy, the Governor and local police, the officials who are obliged to enforce the clearance of commerce from Phuket's beaches that began soon after the military took control of Thailand on May 22 last year.

German tourists complained about the wrong-headed edict yesterday but that failed to stop police handing out roses to good tourists on Patong beach today who lay on mats for Saint Valentines Day and the now-notorious flyers to other tourists seated on beach chairs.

Arrests and fines are unlikely to follow on Patong beach on Monday but misunderstandings can and have led to remarkable mistakes in the past and this could be another one.

The honorary consul for Germany, Anette Jimenez Hochstetter, went to Patong today to assess the problem following complaints from German tourists who have been bringing and using their own chairs at the beach.

''I will be perturbed if anyone is arrested and fined for bringing their own beach chair to a Phuket beach,'' she said later.

The understanding of tourists and all of the envoys on Phuket and in Bangkok is that people are entitled to bring their own umbrellas and chairs to all of Phuket's beaches.

The new rules are designed to prevent these and other items being rented out and therefore becoming a private commercial activity of the kind that has been banned at the beaches.

Part of the confusion has arisen because umbrellas and mats can now be rented at Patong and other beaches under a compromise aimed to provide an income for poorer workers.

Signs at the beach now tell tourists they can rent umbrellas and mats.

Yet out-of-control renting on the beaches is what caused the problem in the first place, with some of Phuket best public beaches disappearing almost entirely under profit-taking umbrellas and sunbeds during the peak season.

Instead of 10 percent of Patong beach being given over to renters, as the compromise deal specifies, vast areas are now again under rented umbrellas. It's chaotic and confusing - and any arrests of tourists from Monday will be a catastrophe for Thailand.

An eloquent comment to Phuketwan today from one of the island's most respected hoteliers made the point clearly that confused authorities are putting at risk the holiday island's whole future.

More craziness from Monday will see Phuket lose its best friends - those who have stuck with the island's beaches despite the loss of the sunbeds and service on the sand.

Phuketwan continues to believe that experiments will further damage the reputation of Phuket, especially if they are misinterpreted by local police who clearly do not relish the job of being beach enforcers.

Let Phuketwan say once again: What Phuket needs is an independent Phuket Beach Authority to impose consistency in rules at all beaches and to have the Royal Thai Navy in charge to enforce the regulations it clearly understands and supports.

Anything less than that isn't going to work.

Here's the hotelier's message. Let's hope it is quickly understood and absorbed:

''Yesterday afternoon I had about ten frustrated,angry and confused long term customers , who have been coming go Patong for years, returning from the beach requesting an explanation with regards to the 'summer beach dream start' letter.

''The guests just do not understand why such an absurd idea is introduced.

''They do not understand why they can not bring their own folding chairs to the beach.

''All of these repeating guests will not return to Phuket or Patong next year .

''One of our guests is a lady with a husband in a wheel chair whose winter pleasure for the past 10 years was to come to Patong to sit on a beach chair and get a massage several time a day.

''She purchased foldable chairs upon arriving and could use them for the first week of their stay.

''She does not understand why she can not use the foldable chairs any longer. This lady was crying out of frustration , anger for a ruined holiday.

''It's truly a sad story for many repeating an loyal customers.

''This morning I went to Patong beach to have a look and talked to one of the police officers on duty who is ordered to tell guests that they can not bring their own foldable chairs or loungers. The police man was 'stressed' to the maximum as he 'hates' his job to spoil our tourists holidays.

''This situation is truly amazing and damaging the beach experience for many of our guests to a point of no return.

''It seems business has to get a lot worse before we start listening to what some of our guests want.''

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Unbelievable. What will happen to Phuket without tourists? If the continue like this, then a lot of people are unemployed. What will be with the big money earn?
Really incredible how tourists are treated here.
Politics is really very difficult to understand.

Posted by steve on February 14, 2015 22:23

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the 10% that belongs to the renters quickly becomes 30-40% during high tide.wait until monsoon season and the 10% becomes 80-90% of available beach.this is true certainly at nai harn beach.

Posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2015 22:26

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not enough room on the paper for the word "please" ?

Posted by mike on February 14, 2015 23:19

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Why not just put a big sign at the arrivals hall 'tourists are not welcome here'

Posted by DG on February 15, 2015 07:38

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Dear Editor

Thank you for giving the voice of our Patong customers your attention in your comments today.

Like you I believe the beaches need to be organized and managed with clear rules and regulations, that everyone understands and are enforced and I hope that common sense will prevail in the next week and tourists will not be arrested when they bring their own foldable beach chairs with them.

I truly believe that such incidents will make world wide negative headlines and will have asignificant impact on customers and guests decisions to choose Phuket or Patong as a future holiday destination.

With best regards


Wolfgang Meusburger
General Manager
Holiday Inn Resort Phuket

Posted by wm on February 15, 2015 09:36

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I'm assuming from this that no police were present at the "big" meeting with Gov/ Navy/ Mayors/ Media the other day to discuss beach plans and standardisation across the island. Strange if true...

Posted by Duncan on February 15, 2015 09:42

Editor Comment:

Navy, Army, Governor, Mayors, but not police. This is a difficult project - turning around the habits of lifetimes - and plainly, it will take time . . . the beaches look at their best, though, and are plainly world-class when only the BYO umbrellas and chairs are permitted.

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We have to see the bright side of this mess : the police cleverly understood that fliers handed out to tourists need to be printed in english.

Posted by nick on February 15, 2015 09:57

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I'm afraid it's too late, the damage has already been done. I fear for years.

Many of our guest, who visit us for over 15 years, will not come back to Phuket anymore. Not even foldable chairs, carried by themselves, can change their negative impression of Phuket.

Janeeta Wukovits
Ginis Beach Resort
Kamala

Posted by Janeeta on February 15, 2015 10:08

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Amazing xenophobic display by the author. A 600 word piece about a translation error. While the real story is the self interest of a grotesque corrupt few.

Posted by gee on February 15, 2015 10:10

Editor Comment:

Gee, can you count? There are two authors, from different countries. Which one is being xenophobic?
This is a rare treat for you - a comment that can be published. What's happened to the bigotry?

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What is going on here on Phuket and specially in Patong deserves wold wide attention. Keep your national and local papers and magazines involved. We have limited freedom of speech here, but the way they "host" the tourists/customers is out of each reasonable proportion. Maybe it is time to give tourists a "warning leaflet" when they intend to book their trip. Amazing Thailand, land of the smile is losing a lot of its attraction. Thailand please return back to normal. Fight the bad guys, greed and corruption. But welcome and "pamper" your guests.

Posted by phuketgreed on February 15, 2015 10:12

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Thailand is bleeding!

Phuket, Pattaya & Samui are shop windows for the outside world. Actions in these places, as described above, do make Thailand look foolish.

However, as you point out to Duncan, changing habits of a lifetime will take time. There are clever people in Thailand, but they are not running the country unfortunately.

I could cite habits across the country that could drive you to despair, if you were of such mind. The paperwork involved to buy a condo is one I am battling in Korat.

But I have just uncovered another round of intransigence & stupidity in the UK banking system that is on par with anything I encounter here. So it is not just Thailand.

Posted by Logic on February 15, 2015 10:52

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Ed you remind me so much of Andrew Bolt

Posted by Harry on February 15, 2015 11:03

Editor Comment:

Well we're both journalists and both Australians. But it's plain your knowledge ends there and is as limited about the two of us as it is about everything.

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I do not understand the thinking behind this action of the local police ( not even able to hand out correct English language flyers). Why is the Patong police not following the directives of the Navy Admiral and the Phuket Governor in the first place? What was behind all this foolish action? Just start handling illegal parking ( a simple task) would do good already. They not need to speak English to fine all these tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.

Posted by Kurt on February 15, 2015 11:17

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Before we all verbally bash some Thai people have you ever thought that all this "greed" came about by foreigners paying way too much money for almost everything in the not too distant past. Given the resources it is not that bad here, many people love Thailand but many want to change it to be like Europe/Australia etc.

Posted by Feisty Farang on February 15, 2015 12:05

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Name calling 555 pathetic.

Posted by gee on February 15, 2015 12:24

Editor Comment:

I am glad you realise your accusations of xenophobia are pathetic, gee. Now all you need to do is learn to count.

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It is strange that the authorities in Phuket's west coast can't understand where their income comes from. Why is it so complicated to understand the fact, that if there are no tourists here, then there is no tax money for salaries to government employees!

Posted by Sherlock on February 15, 2015 12:39

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Isn,t the beach public land? I thaught that was the reason why the military wanted to take the land back, from corrupt members of the local administration, and police. Who has the real controll of these beaches, making laws and rules of what activities to be permitted?

Posted by Norwegian on February 15, 2015 14:10

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[quote]
Isn,t the beach public land?
[/quote]

That is my understanding. This ongoing absurdity is all about money and nothing else. A tourist should be allowed to bring their own deckchair, umbrella, beachmat etc onto the beach, because that is a personal, not a commercial activity.

The sole reason IMHO, why this farce continues, is because 'personal activity' equals no money in someone's greedy hands.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on February 15, 2015 18:52

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Democracy at it's best!

Posted by Daniel.D on February 16, 2015 02:52

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I am back in Phuket in a few short weeks, with my daughter and grandchildren for the first time. I have found some upside in all this. With no chairs or people on the beaches I will not loose the kids in the crowd. The downside the danger of jet skis and parasails hitting them on the beach. Think I will just leave Patong Beach alone, more the pity. I really hope they get it together, looking forward to the rest of the family understanding why we love Phuket, hope they get to see it without all the laughable rubbish about chairs etc. Just make a decision and move on. Luckily Patong Beach is not the only reason we love Phuket, there are so many other highlights.

Posted by Davemc60 on February 16, 2015 06:15

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My wife and I are due into Patong for our annual month holiday in just over a week and are, like every visit, bringing some friends along to enjoy what we have always called our ''slice of heaven''. It is the way we talk about our time in Patong that engages our friends and makes them want to come and see for themselves exactly what we are talking about and why we enjoy it so much. We stay in expensive accommodation, eat out, do day trips, hire drivers and guides, donate to local charitable organisations and buy all the usual junk that we neither need or want and between us will inject over $3 million Baht into your economy. Unfortunately we all enjoyed sitting on the beach on comfortable lounges and as there are many other countries in the world that encourages this I wish we had have known about these changes prior to booking because we would have gone elsewhere. It is such as shame that even the simplest compromise can't be agreed on, it is a large beach, which does need to cater to a myriad of tourist needs so allocate some of it to serviced lounges and move on, or like a number of tourist, we will.

Posted by William on February 17, 2015 04:54

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Please we have been visiting Patong beach for 10 years to sit on chairs with umbrellas. This is our annual holiday. We are old & cannot sit on sand without shade. Perhaps no more visits!, so sorry.

Posted by Ros on August 8, 2015 19:02


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