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Jet-ski operators have taken control of Patong, once a swimmers' beach

Jet-Skis Take Over Patong Beach

Monday, August 31, 2015
PHUKET: Jet-ski operators on Phuket's most famous beach, Patong, park their vehicles on the sand wherever they like. The most popular spot is between lifeguards' flags or close to the ''safe swimming'' areas.

Unless the jet-skis are banned or kept way out at sea this high season from October on, deaths and injuries of tourists are likely.

A local resident who regularly visits the beach at sunset says that speedboat parasailers and some jet-ski operators keep operating even after darkness falls - a sure recipe for tragedy.

The chaos on the beach itself, with illegal hirers putting out umbrellas and mats in long rows wherever they like, is made worse by the takeover of the beach by the jet-ski operators.

Last week, Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong appeared to throw his support behind a plan put forward by researchers from Prince of Songkhla University to have the beaches of Phuket controlled by a special committee, with enforcement coming from police and the Royal Thai Navy.

This concept mirrors a suggestion put forward by Phuketwan that a Phuket Beach Authority needs to be established to remove the beaches from the control of local councils.

While some councils have done well to achieve a sense or order at some beaches since the military cleared all commerce - including thousands of sunbeds - from Phuket's west coast in June last year, others struggle to enforce the rules.

Removing the beaches from the councils and giving control to a committee or authority is the best thing that the governor can do to ensure a future for tourism on Phuket. Allowing tourists to bring their own sunbeds and put them wherever they like is the other rule he should introduce.

That system works well elsewhere, in countries with a good record of protecting swimmers and beaches.

If the Phuket authorities are seriously committed to tourism security and safety, they will immediately review whether jet-skis should be banned, as they already are in the neighboring provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga.

The great shame is that previous governors failed to follow through on a proposal to phase them out over seven years.

Instead, the jet-skis grew in number. Now, they're a blight on Phuket's beaches.

It's to be hoped that the research team from Prince of Songhkla can do as good a job in independently assessing whether Phuket should ban jet-skis as they have done in determining the best beach management system for the holiday island's future.

The illegal deeds of private profit-takers over 20 years will not be undone overnight. But the implementation of a workable system can get Phuket on the right track.

Phuketwan suggests the next step is to order the jet-skis to operate from offshore pontoons. If that fails, ban these hideous machines.

If police and the Royal Thai Navy had seized all those jet-skis that were on Patong beach yesterday, breaking the rules, half of the problem would have disappeared already.

Patong beach was once the most popular beach with swimmers on Phuket. The governor's job won't be done until the jet-skis are gone and all the swimmers can go back in the water, safely.

Vendors continue to ride motorcycles along the pedestrian walking paths behind the beach and the bicycle-only route has already been blocked . . . by parked motorcycles.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


NO surprise at all here - there is zero enforcement by anybody in power. They make rules and never enforce and the vendors and jet ski operators know this.

They can commission as many studies as they like but they will be a waste of time without enforcement.

Posted by Ciaran on August 31, 2015 11:00

Editor Comment:

Bit of Doomsayer or Doomstayer still in the DNA, Ciaran? Unable to detect or acknowledge genuine progress and praise it when you see it? With police and the Royal Thai Navy as enforcers, this is a great step forward. Let's hope it is given the ok.


because the world is constantly progressing, and changes are inevitable .. everywhere except in Phuket

Posted by dave on August 31, 2015 11:17

Editor Comment:

You're a Doomstayer, dave, we know that.


Nice story Ed...but its the same ol song and dance...once again I yawn reading it followed by a disgruntled sigh and a shake of my head that goes in a left right left right direction.

Posted by sky on August 31, 2015 11:30

Editor Comment:

Nothing is the same, sky, except your attitude. But do keep yawning, we wouldn't want you to add value.


I don't understand why you keep comparing Phuket with other countries, or even other places in Thailand , such as Krabi and Phang Nga. In many instances, there is no comparison at all. Can't you see that Phuket authorities are just interested in money, and not tourism safety? And PW is always "suggesting" steps to take for these thugs. Why do you think they would listen to PW in the first place?
Let's face it, these machines will continue as long as people wanna ride them. Demand and supply. Even though the supply of jet ski's in Patong is way over the actual demand, it doesn't matter for these guys. It's about taking control, and it seems they are succeeding. Police will never act against these thugs.Too much at stake.

Posted by Carl on August 31, 2015 11:35

Editor Comment:

As a matter of fact, the governor was extremely receptive to the new ideas suggested by PW and others at last week's beach meeting. It's the Doomsayers and do-nothings who support the wrong-doing by carping who keep feeding the corrupt system, Carl.


If a separate beach authority is set up. What chance does it have of being free from nepotism and corruption? Given these things infest every aspect of the Thai civil service already. All it may do is create another group to be paid for access and favors.

Posted by Arun Muruga on August 31, 2015 11:46

Editor Comment:

A 12-person committee is more difficult and far more expensive to bribe than a single politician, AM. Why not accept change for the better when you see it? Finding fault with everything is best left to Doomsayers. You aren't one, are you?


Just how much intelligence does it take to administer a beach...just a tad more than an ant has I would venture to say....what an absolute mess Patong Beach is turning any of the so called "powers that be" ever walk on this beach in the morning or for that matter anytime of the would appear that the vice governor who went to Sydney's Bondi Beach wasted his time...a real shame that this once magnificent beach has been allowed to turn into a diabolical mess....shame on the administrators and likewise to the greedy people operating there.

Posted by Beach Walker on August 31, 2015 12:11


Dont say always Doomstayer. Before a year you have already said, and what has changed for good? We wait another year, then we'll talk again.
Now just Patong,the beach at all looks no better. I am always surprised, that still people come, but only once and never again.
As long as the Jet Ski are on the beach. I do not come to this beach. There are better places on Phuket.

Posted by steve on August 31, 2015 13:00

Editor Comment:

What has changed for the good? The beaches have been cleared of illegal sunbeds and vendors and the foreshores have been cleared of most illegal restaurants and beach clubs, that's what's changed, steve. Only the gloomy can't see the good.


I may not agree all time with Phuketwan but in that case about Phuket beaches, Phuketwan is right because a lot of thing have been changed about Phuket Beaches and more improvements will come in the future.
Next Wednesday or the day after tomorrow, Royal thai navy and local Authorities will be moving to bulldoze about 10 bars and restaurants at Laypang beach, north of Bang Tao.
I may say, that Phuketwan is the sole Media in Phuket which has the balls to publish Doomstayers' comments.
Few comments are posted on the 2 other online media because of fear to be investigated.
Well done Phuketwan.

Posted by WhistleBlower on August 31, 2015 13:27


As far as the Jet-skis are concerned, absolutely nothing has changed for the better in the past 10 years. It has only become worse.

Their numbers have increased and their hold on power is now so great that the whole subject is by and large simply ignored by authorities.

They are clearly illegal and according to the PSU study 96.5% of tourists do NOT want them, yet they dominate the beaches and tell everyone where they can or cannot be on the beach.

They have truly become the Untouchables.

I challenge anyone to come forward with evidence how even a single issue in regard to the Jet-skis has improved in the past 10 years.

Posted by Herbert on August 31, 2015 14:59


Ed, with regards to your reply to "steve,", yes, I agree with you, there has been change, where we differ is that instead of a beach, I'm talking about Patong, being covered in umbrellas and loungers, we now have a beach taken over by jet ski's and parasailers, nice change. I'm so glad you have proven us realists/doomsayers wrong. Although I didn't use them I would prefer loungers back and jet ski's gone, but hey, I'm strange, I like to swim safely.

Posted by Laurie Howells on August 31, 2015 15:12


Nearly got run down today by a moron on a motorbike driving on the pedestrian walkway. When I saw he was driving fast & right at me I decided to carry on straight before flicking my elbow at the idiot as he passed. Shame the plonker didn't fall off...he'll prob do the same again tomorrow but hit some poor unsuspecting person soon.

Posted by Anonymous on August 31, 2015 15:19


Good article - these hideous machines cause so much nuisance they do need to go. It's good news that the governor has shown interest in some of the suggestions, and like others have pointed out, any new rules are nothing without enforcement. Since the clear out by the army, rules were introduced banning them from sitting on the sand, and that lasted... Oooo about 5 minutes! Any new rules like pontoons will inevitably go the same way.

Yes, a few restaurants have been pulled down, and now the authorities need to show their dedication to enforcing the existing laws rather than keep bringing in new ones that will be forgotten the next day

Start with a couple of easy ones: the illegal transportation of the jet skis on the roads each morning and evening, and the motorbikes driving along the beach sidewalk

That would show willingness for change much more than more new rules

In my dreams !!

Posted by Discover Thainess on August 31, 2015 15:27


For me, it has changed, when the jet ski are away.
Yes, the sun beds have made more room for the Jet Ski.
I see it all positive, but only if the jet skis are banned.

Posted by steve on August 31, 2015 15:37


It is very simple - jet ski riders need to be in possetion of a PWC license - if not riiders cant rent and hold the rental companies responsable - it works in the EU and USA

Posted by Phuket captain on August 31, 2015 16:59


Would it not be more sensible to allocate 10% of Patong Beach at the most southern end of the beach to the Jet Skis. This would give them access to and from the sea via the Klong ( where no one wants to swim anyway). Same as the long tails.
Then simply exclude them from entering within 100mtrs, out from the tidal shore line along Patong Beach proper.

Posted by Hugh Jarse on August 31, 2015 17:57

Editor Comment:

You don't get it, Huge Jarse. There are not that many people who want to ride jet-skis, unless they can see them front and centre or be encouraged by touts to ride them. That's why the business has been given most of the beach. Tucking them away . . . all 168 jet-skis?


It is all about taking the money, big money. Public safety and public comfort is not considered.

Posted by Paul on August 31, 2015 18:47


I thought I DID get it Ed.
Switching percentages so that the general public got 90% of the beach.
Enthusiasts still got to ride Jet Skis in a controlled situation if they really had too. Obvious safety benefits for a start.
Agree that 168 skis is overkill.Half that number would never be in use at any one time, so unrealistic levels would be decreased by demand attrition.
You ask for suggestions rather than Doomsayers. That's mine. Seems more feasible than others I've heard from non-beach-going politicians.

Posted by Hugh Jarse on August 31, 2015 21:53


You can't compare Patong beach with a beach in countries, where the beachgoers is locals.

Tourists here have to buy a set of sunbeds at arrival, of which most just will be left as trash at their hotel at departure.

Besides carriers of beach sets need motorised transport to the beach instead of walking.

How can anybody call this an environmentally friendly solution?

Posted by Sherlock on August 31, 2015 23:44

Editor Comment:

Do you or do you not have an investment in accommodation, Sherlock? It wouldn't be fair and independent research if your views are based on your investment. It does not make your views less valid, but it is a consideration, isn't it? Having money involved is something you should declare.


So i keep asking the question like many others but journalists just want to report rather than investigate. The question is who owns the jet ski's ? maybe then we will find what we seem to assume, that they are owned by influential families/corrupt unacountable officials wishing to protect their nest egg ?. Once we know then we will find if this problem will ever be sorted and the guilty brought to task.
However i expect the same repetitive stories of jet ski's and tuk tuks,i have been reading the same rehash for 12 years...... yawn........

Posted by LES on August 31, 2015 23:58

Editor Comment:

The principle is the same, no matter who owns the jet-skis, LES. In environmentally-friendly provinces, they are banned. In Phuket, they were once destined to be phased out over seven years. Do you really think a reporter telling you that the jet-skis are mostly owned by individuals is going to make a difference? How much of your money are you prepared to invest in this investigation?


Well done to Phuket Wan for supporting the clearance of the beaches. How do you feel now with all the bloody jet skis taking over? We have friends who live near Naiyang Beach and they tell me that apart form the small piece of beach in front of Indigo Pearl resort, which is kept spotless, the rest of the beach is not so tidy. Is this what the government wanted to achieve with their stupid plan. This high season will be the last chance for Phuket to sort the beach problem out. We have just returned from Koh Samui, no problem with sunbeds there, and guess what, spotless beaches. Makes you wonder. Another great result for the greenies and do-Golders.

Posted by Milly on September 1, 2015 15:56

Editor Comment:

There is no comparing Phuket beaches and Samui beaches, Milly. One lot is world-class, the other is not.


When the army confronted them during their 'clean up' the Jet Ski operators threatened to turn to crime in order to make a living (ripping off tourists with fake damage scams isn't counted as a crime) if they were banned from their Jet ski operations. With that nonsense expect no change. The army should have rounded them up and done away with them.

Posted by Howie on September 1, 2015 19:31


Ban the jet skis for good.
Where are the law enforcement in this mess. Talking, but very little happen

Posted by Expat for 8 years on September 5, 2015 10:00


All this so called 'Doomsayer thing' is actually right, but phuketwan is feeling different, despite the significant prove.
Here is another tip for PhuketWan, not just put comments down, and not just to write down what is spoon feeded, but to investigate as a journalist! Chalong underpass building until now has in no way approved, So far all bubbles. PhuketWan can check this out.

Posted by Kurt on September 5, 2015 17:02

Editor Comment:

And what will be your contribution in the way of the resources necessary to ''check this out''? Pay a reporter's salary and you have the right to tell us what to do. Offer inane comments that are either put-downs or wind-ups, and your suggestions will be treated with the contempt they deserve.


Has anybody ever done a environmental ocean pollution study at patong beach ? More jet skis = marine pollution .

Posted by reg on September 7, 2015 13:03


@ editor, Well Mr Editor, where I come from we are used to journalists who not just copy/forwards news from agencies or parroting thai authorities, but go after items, dig and find out.
1: how is it possible tourist get confronted by soldiers on beaches, and jet skies took over the beaches and not positioned at assigned locations by the same soldiers? This is a top corruption thing. Or can you explain I think wrong?
2: Has the illegal beach restaurant down Karon View Point, on public land ( where they were shooting with guns on people!)as you reported, now already demolished? If not, why not? That is journalistic work.

Posted by Kurt on September 7, 2015 13:46

Editor Comment:

Where I come from, Kurt, people who have nothing to add stay silent. Nobody would ever think of criticising something that was delivered to them for free. That would be called ''being obnoxious.'' Where I come from, if someone wants something, they pay for it.
You have a great future, Kurt, in a role where logic is not a requirement.


gave them a inch they took the whole beach

Posted by slickmelb on September 9, 2015 17:20


From a stupid Farang point of view?

Re jet skis...No brainer methinks:
Barricade all beach access for all wheeled vehicles bar those of rescue and lifesavers.

PS We will miss your site after Jan 2016

Posted by david on September 10, 2015 11:00

Sunday June 13, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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