PHUKET: The island’s new Governor, Pongpayome Vasaputi, has stepped into the furious row between Phuket’s hotels and the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) over the OrBorJor’s new tax on hotel room revenue. After a five-hour closed meeting last Wednesday with representatives of both sides, the Governor ruled that the hotels must pay the tax, but that the OrBorJor must revise its proposed penalties for non-payment. “The hotels requested that the OrBorJor use the tax mainly for tourism projects, and that hotels be represented on committees to be set up to decide on spending. “One project they want us to keep is the beach lifeguards,” Wisut Santikun, vice president of the OrBorJor, told the Gazette. Although the Governor’s arbitration brought the two sides closer, there still appears to be some disagreement over the tax rate. The OrBorJor wants to collect 0.5% this year (which it expects will bring in revenue of 25 million baht) and 2% next year, starting at the end of September. But hotel representatives in the meeting pushed for 0.2% for the first six months of this year, 0.5% for the remainder, and 1% next year. K. Wisut said that the Governor had declined to make a ruling on the rate of tax, and had urged the two sides to sit down together and hammer out an agreement. The Phuket Tourism Association (PTA), however, seems to have come away with a different interpretation. In a notice to members, sent out two days later, the PTA told them that all hotels and resorts will have to pay only 0.2% from November 1 this year until April 30 next year. “This is correct,” Sombat Atiset, president of the PTA, told the Gazette. K. Wisut disagrees. “We are considering that proposal,” he says.
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