Jet-ski operators back on beach, vow to protect Phuket tourists

PHUKET: Jet-skis are back on Phuket’s beaches after operators vowed to double up as beach cleaners, as well as volunteer lifeguards, Phuket Jet-Ski Club Nucha Petchvimol told the Phuket Gazette today.

However, their return to the beaches may be temporary, confirmed Commanding General of the 41st Military Circle Peerapol Wiriyakul.

“I have yet to receive a full report. All I know at this point is that officials are working on beach-vendor management (story here). We understand that people need to make a living. However, it must be done in a lawful manner and must not harm anyone,” explained Maj Gen Peerapol.

The operators, who were banned from the beach for four days and have been the focus of thousands of international complaints over the years (story here), were granted permission to return to Patong Beach after raising the spurious issue of needing to make loan payments for the jet-skis.

“Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada and Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsab agreed that jet-ski operators can still work on the beaches. The decision was made by local authorities, and approved by the Army,” said Col Somchai Ponatong of the Army’s 41st Military Circle.

“However, the jet-ski operators might not remain on the beach for long. We are now working on a more comprehensive plan, which includes solutions for all beach vendors.”

Mr Nucha expressed his gratitude for permission to continue to operate jet-skis at the tourist-popular beach.

“All we need is a place to earn a living and pay for our jet-skis. One jet-ski can cost up to 400,000 baht,” Mr Nucha said. “It is good that the military is lending us a hand. If you come to the beach, you can see how clean and organized it is.”

Mr Nucha told the Gazette that all the jet-skis are now being kept under the trees that line the beach.

“They are brought down to the water only when a customer wants to use one,” Mr Nucha said.

— Chutharat Plerin

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