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A Banyan Tree staffer (right) tries to explain what's happening to tourists

Phuket Raiders Nab Sunbeds, Mats from Tourists on Beach Near Luxury Resort

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
PHUKET: Council volunteer raiders took possession of illegal sunbeds and scores of padded mats being used by tourists at the beach near Phuket's exclusive Banyan Tree Phuket Resort today.

The tourists, mostly from Sweden and Russia, were puzzled because they had carried the sunbeds and mats from their resort and believed they were permitted to ''bring your own'' equipment to Phuket's beaches.

The shock arrival of men in the uniforms of volunteers of the local Thalang district disturbed the tourists, who were mostly dressed in swimsuits.

Some said they wouldn't be back to Phuket after the unexpected interruption to their holiday by the sea.

There was no English speaker among the 30 officials involved in the operation. This Phuketwan reporter was deputised to explain to the tourists what was happening.

Local councils that oversee Phuket's prime tourist beaches are under orders from the island's governor to enforce an experimental rule to limit umbrellas and other equipment to ''10 percent zones'' at all beaches.

Today at the beach near the Banyan Tree, officials took possession of seven sunbeds, 76 padded mats and four chairs. A spokesperson for the resort admitted ownership of the sunbeds and the mats, but not the chairs.

The serene sight of tourists relaxing in the shade of a grove of trees was quickly disturbed with the arrival of the squad of raiders in pickups.

In the argy bargy that followed, some tourists were so upset they headed back to the resort immediately. Children seemed bemused.

All that tourists who stayed on were allowed to keep at the beach were towels or thin, traditional cane mats.

The sunbeds and mats were carted off in the pickups to council offices.

A complaint will be made at Cherng Talay Police Station about Banyan Tree breaching the governor's experimental beach rule.

All of Phuket's beaches and shorefronts were cleared of most private commercial activity, beach clubs and restaurants after the military took control in Thailand in May last year.

The beaches - all public space - had been used for decades by some individuals to become wealthy. Keeping the beaches clear of commerce would have made sense.

However, in an effort to find jobs for ''poor beach workers,'' Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong ordered umbrellas, mats and provision of food and drink to be restored to ''10 percent zones.''

The other 90 percent of the beaches were intended to be kept totally clear of umbrellas and padded mats - everything except tourists and their towels or thin mats.

At most of Phuket's most popular beaches, the edict has yet to be carried out and tourists continue to bring their own umbrellas, mats and beach chairs.

Beach chairs and sunbeds are banned entirely - even if tourists bring their own.

Enforcement has been erratic and half-hearted, with police in destinations such as Patong, Karon, Kata and Kamala reluctant to be the ones who are forced to confiscate beach chairs from veteran tourists.

Photographs of one occasion when umbrellas were seized from tourists were republished around the world, diminishing Phuket's reputation as a safe, welcoming holiday destination for sunlovers.

Comments

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These pictures would make a good addition to the TAT Discover Thainess campaign.

Local authorities may slowly be waking up to the principle of public beaches but public relations seems to be a totally foreign concept to them. Pun intended.

I can understand some officials being between a rock and a hard place but to carry out such actions without even 1 English speaking person able to explain what and why pretty much says it all about where the sentiment of the tourists ranks on their list of priorities.

Perhaps the Governor should explain his policy in person to the tourists during such raids.

Posted by Herbert on April 7, 2015 13:16

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it's experimental rule!

it was not made in a written official administrative order!!

they can't fine in any manner for violating it, only if by referring to a general law about beaches as a private land etc.

Posted by Sue on April 7, 2015 13:26

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First, tourists need to realize that Phuket beaches have beautiful and soft sand (if you find a spot away from the trash). That is why you go to the "beach"..., you really don't need some crusty rubber mat that has been holding someone else's sweaty arse for a few years. Second, it is amazing what kind of posse the local officials can muster up to upset tourists. They should have gone straight to the hotel... THEY are the problems, and they just don't learn. This foolish act will ultimately cost Phuket many many baht. Third, it is too bad that the gov't can't muster up the same level of enforcement of the careless polluters that discharge their filthy water and sewage into the environment every day. The hotels and the restaurants make the most money, contribute the most filth and trash, but contribute little to nothing to offset their impacts. I'm sure this episode will generate more entertainment in the coming hours/days... I can't wait.

Posted by Ed Sanders on April 7, 2015 13:36

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Personally I think this is a good thing to try and keep the beaches as natural as possible. They should have had an English speaker for the implementation. Australia has lovely beaches without sunbeds.

Posted by Welcome To Paradise on April 7, 2015 14:47

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Well done, natural beaches must be Phuket's main asset for tourists and locals. Place on beaches will be more and more limited as the population is growing. But more trees are needed for the shade and soil structure against erosion. I only wish more volunteers would target hotels that have cemented near the beaches in the protected zones 50 m from the highest average tide.

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2015 14:56

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I am the evil padded mat. Fear me.

Posted by Padded Mats on April 7, 2015 15:14

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It's the total lack of PR skills that's the big problem. Tackling this differently by simply telling the hotels they can't let these items on the beach would have saved the bad feeling they have now instilled in these tourists. Low season has already arrived in many places, lots of tourists have vowed not to return next year. Can the authorities really afford to anger those remaining tourists in this way?

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2015 15:15

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@Steve - I shouldn't think the hotels are happy either it is their property.

Posted by Welcome To Paradise on April 7, 2015 16:50

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would they confiscate a back pack if you rest your head on it?

Posted by mike on April 7, 2015 22:16

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Thais hate losing face, but making tourists lose it seems to be no problem in this case. Very narrow minded, and biting the hand that feeds - AGAIN

Signed

A One way Street

Posted by farang888 on April 7, 2015 22:28

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These thick mats in perfect nature illustrate so well what is meant by a " lack of taste " !

Posted by Anonymous on April 8, 2015 16:13


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