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A sign is no substitute for 88 lifeguards who won't be on Phuket's beaches

Your Next Phuket Swim May Be Your Last

Thursday, March 26, 2015
PHUKET: Thirteen beaches on Phuket's popular tourist west coast will be protected only by WARNING signs from Friday - with lifeguards likely to be absent for at least a month.

Officials at the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, which covers the 22 million baht budget for the Phuket Lifeguard Service, said today a solution was not likely within that time.

While most world-class tropical beach destinations wouldn't think of allowing a single day to go by without having lifeguards on the beaches, the departure of lifeguards from Phuket's beaches occurs almost every year - and for as long as seven weeks on one recent occasion.

While the PPAO is considered to be better at its management job than most councils, the annual absence of lifeguards demonstrates to the world how poor Phuket is at sorting out its problems, especially those connected with tourism safety.

For years, Phuket's lifeguards have been making the point that protecting tourists from drowning on Phuket is a community task, and that the resorts that entice the tourists to come and that profit from their presence should warn swimmers about the dangerous rip currents that develop on some beaches during the monsoon season.

With a few exceptions, Phuket's resorts mostly ignore giving any warnings to tourists.

Some volunteer lifeguards may be on duty from Friday at Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala, Surin, Bang Tao and other beaches. But swimmers are advised not to bet their lives on it.

The strict rules imposed by the PPAO in negotiating the renewal of the contract each year are designed to keep the arrangement transparent and corruption free, which is wonderful unless it's you or a relative or a friend who happens not to see the WARNING signs from tomorrow, goes for a swim and drowns.

That this issue remains an annual matter of life or death despite the importance of Phuket retaining its reputation as a safe destination for tourists - and residents who swim - remains a showcase for the holiday island's collective ineptitude.

Surin Beach, Phuket, Thursday March 26 1830 hours:

Lifeguards have managed to keep Surin Beach drowning-free for over five years. Neighboring beaches such as Bang Tao and Laem Singh have not been so lucky, with numerous drownings occurring there over that same time period.

Today, Surin Beach Lifeguards have closed the swimming area for the last time as money for lifesaving services has run out due. The loss of ocean lifeguards across Phuket comes as the monsoon season and the dangerous rip currents that come with it are approaching.

The crossed red and yellow flags indicate the closing of the safe swimming area - usually just for the day - but tomorrow the lifeguards will not be returning. When the lifeguards will return is unknown at this time.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


what a great job done by the lifeguards yesterday, saving a man. These men are important to all. perhaps this sign should share an image of swimmer being cut in half by a boat prop. be one the safe everyone.

Posted by fk on March 27, 2015 01:50


Of course. if provincial authorities do not take even slightest attempts to collect what they have to have in provincial coffers - i.e. hotel tax as % from revenue, as HALF of hotels ( not guest houses) are not registered in province as hotels, thus not paying province hotel tax, thus the Phuket province doesn't have enough bdg for anything, incl. vital beach lifeguard servives.

Phuketwan on 08.09.2010. provided extensive coverage and analysis on the topic:

Since then hardly anything with hotels' registration and related collection of hotels' tax has changed.

Posted by Sue on March 27, 2015 02:49

Editor Comment:

The problem is, Sue, that the PPAO is an elected body like the local councils and the needs of the voters come first. What's lacking in the thinking of most officials is the realisation that the tourists ARE the Phuket economy.


no lifeguards? problem...not a priority as money can't be made over people having trouble in the water,...this topic shouldn't even be an issue..there should be lifeguards on Thailands beaches 365 days/yr...with the best equipment no exceptions...and as always..where are the priorities?

Posted by sky on March 27, 2015 03:37


I guess it's Deja Vu all over again on Ground Hog Day.

Posted by farang888 on March 27, 2015 04:18


Maybe it needs to become same as skiing with ski insurance, foreigners will need to have swim insurance to come to Phuket & be allowed onto the beaches to swim.

Posted by Logic on March 27, 2015 04:33



Decentralization effectively started with 1999 Decentralisation Act, and in course, of next ten years, up to 2010, in accordance with the 1st Decentralization Plan and 2nd decentralization plan, local authorities structure has been reformed, close to 300 functions have been purposefully shifted downward from the central authorities. Downward means actually more to local governments - those of tambon/towns.

Yes, more eleceted officers.
And yes, more money - or at least more legal opportunity to collect local taxes.

Yes, as you meant local elected authorties do not really like idea to directly enforce collection of local taxes from local businesses - in cas eof hotel, albeit for collection of hotel tax is responsible Revenue Department, but they will do it only if hotels ARE registered as hotels with a province.. And yes, to enforce that registration is a task of provincial and other local administrative bodies, even not that of police...

Realistically there is zero hope that decentralization would be reversed, but on piecemeal basis may be the Central Givernment would address Phuket problems - beach management, seaways(=jetski&small boats) management, revenue streams (hotels registration) - I am sure there are some clever people who both notice existence of and have a comprehensive understanding of these issues.

JP academics on TH Decentralization up to 2010:

Posted by Sue on March 27, 2015 06:06

Editor Comment:

We've suggested a properly funded independent Phuket Beach Authority to protect the beaches and the tourists. Where the money comes from we'll leave to you.


"Third, with respect of local government structure, local authorities in Thailand are classified into many forms, and each is too small to function well.As a result, they lack the personnel and technical capacity to take responsibilty for some important functions"

So true also, it's another problematic facet of the current situation in Phuket, say, in regard of beach management.

"Local Governance in Thailand: The Politics of Decentralization and the Roles of Bureaucrats, Politicians and the People"
Supasawad Chardchawarn.

Posted by Sue on March 27, 2015 06:25


They do absolutely everything to destroy tourism here. And the way it's going now, they will succeed. (moderated)

Posted by Carl on March 27, 2015 09:56

Editor Comment:

The reason why your posts are not published, Carl, is because you misuse the word ''they'' so thoroughly it's impossible to tell who or what you are talking about. We don't believe anybody is deliberately trying to ''destroy tourism here'' but mistakes are certainly being made in allowing the corrupt and the greedy to dictate policies. Instead of asking whether we have the ''cajones'' to publish your comment, show us your own ''cajones'' by using a real name. You could also try using real information and a real argument.


the Governor of Phuket is insistent that his Zone Plan must be implemented. He seems equally insistent that the return of the beaches go nature must include the unnatural motorised water sports activities. He appears to be uninterested in the danger to swimmers of that most natural attribute - the ocean. Go figure!

Posted by Alan on March 27, 2015 11:04

Editor Comment:

Unfortunately the honorary consuls have yet to be given an opportunity to tell the governor about the need for safety at the beaches and on the roads. The people who have had the governor's ear for the past six months mostly have business interests on Phuket or are not independent in their outlook.


@Ed:What other name do you want from me? you have my details,and in the past, i have not used the word "they", but actually a name of the official involved. But as always you turn the stories to your hand, to your needs, and to your interest. Sorry, but i am a person that is not afraid to use names that are involved in corruption.Unlike you,because otherwise, you would have published my previous comments from that person.And as i predicted, you did not fully publish my comment here as well this morning, which means, somebody is holding you,or PW back.Proof me wrong. ( of course, your reaction now will be ; either cut off this comment - again, not publishing, or just make sure that you have the last word, by saying that you don't have to proof anything. You want to come over as a smart person? Do so.

Posted by Carl on March 27, 2015 11:25

Editor Comment:

We don't turn comments ''to our interests'' but we do impose rules based on fairness and the laws of Thailand. I suggest you become acquainted with both or cease making allegations anonymously that won't stand up in court. We don't respond to challenges from readers. It's about time you understood that online comments are not the place for you or anyone else to make accusations against ''them'' or anybody else. All you prove is your lack of reasoned thought. And I have the last word merely in the forlorn hope that you and others like you will stop wasting my time. Wise up, Carl, please.


The people of PPAO are not the only ones who don't realise that the tourists ARE Phuket's economy. What to think of the people who are in favour of the temoval of sunbeds?

Posted by marko on March 27, 2015 17:38


It will be interesting to see tourist numbers at the same time next year. I've been a Phuket advocate for over 20 years, the beach debacle is turning tourists off Phuket. Remember tourism has built the island to what it is today.

Posted by Rob on March 30, 2015 16:31

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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