Jet-ski operators vow to fight ban

CHERNG TALAY: Veerachai Thonghom, chairman of the Phuket Jet-Ski Club, yesterday vowed to appeal to the central government in Bangkok to allow jet-ski operators to continue renting out their machines on Phuket’s beaches.

K. Veerchai announced his intention yesterday after Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura refused to budge on his stated policy of reducing jet-skis in Phuket to zero by March 1, 2011.

The Governor reaffirmed his commitment to the zero-tolerance policy at a meeting at the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization offices, called to resolve a dispute over new jet-skis being rented out at Bang Tao Beach.

Phuket Jet-Ski Club member Kanitha Kahapana had complained to the Governor that officials had treated her unfairly when they arrested her for renting out three new, unregistered jet-skis at Bang Tao.

However, Phuket Marine Office (PMO) chief Surin Teerakulpisuth said, “The PMO is following the governor’s policy to phase out jet-skis within seven years. Since March 1, the PMO has re-registered a total of 219 jet-skis, but we have not registered a single new jet-ski,” K. Surin said.

Gov Udomsak explained, “My policy to phase out jet-skis in Phuket results from the jet-ski accidents last year in which two European tourists died, one of them a 13-year-old German boy.

“If the Jet-Ski Club can prove that jet-ski businesses are beneficial to Phuket’s tourism industry,” he said, “then they should appeal to the central government in Bangkok.”

He added, “I recommend that owners of jet-ski rental businesses change their career. There is no reason for them to rely on renting out jet-skis; there are many jobs available for them in Phuket’s tourism industry.”

However, after the meeting, K. Veerachai said, “I do not agree with him. This regulation cuts off people’s income and affects people’s business opportunities.”

He added that the club, which has 123 members, will meet soon to draw up a petition to submit to the central government in Bangkok. “The club will petition the government [in Bangkok] to reconsider this policy so that everyone can benefit,” he said.

Phuket News

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