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No answers for outraged Phuket beach vendors

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Dozens of Phuket beach vendors went toe-to-toe with Patong’s mayor yesterday demanding that she protect them and their livelihoods.

“I thought the beach vendors would have ideas on how we can support them, but they mostly just complained about me not taking care of them and not protecting them,” said newly-elected Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsab.

“I understand that they are angry that their livelihood has been taken away. Yes, taking care of the people of Patong is my priority, but following the NCPO’s [National Council for Peace and Order] order to return the beach to the public is also my responsibility.”

Champion for the about 60 angry vendors who attended the meeting was Patong Entertainment Business Association President Weerawit Krueasombut.

“We understand that the order had to be followed. However, Patong Municipality must take responsibility for the vendors who lost their jobs,” Mr Weerawit told the Phuket Gazette.

“Before it was cleared, each vendor cleaned up his or her section of the beach. Now, trash washes up on the sand and nobody manages it. The municipality doesn’t have the budget or manpower to take care of that problem.”

Mr Weerawit also noted that umbrella and chair rentals were an essential service in the eyes of many tourists.

A vendor, asked to be identified only as Mr Ton, has been working on the beach for decades and agreed wholeheartedly with Mr Weerawit.

“Customers tell us that they want shade and want to sleep in the chairs. They tell us they won’t come back to Phuket because we can’t provide such a simple, expected service,” Mr Ton said.

“This will definitely affect Phuket’s tourism.”

Mr Ton pointed out that the vendors had paid fees and were operating on the beach within the legal constraints established by Patong Municipality.

“There are about 60 beach vendors in Patong. Think about it, how many people are affected when you account for the family members that are dependent on us?” Mr Ton asked.

“Tell us what we can do. We need to earn money.”

The meeting yesterday concluded with no resolutions to the issue.

“I will take this issue to Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada. I will not abandon Patong residents. We will do our best to ensure beach vendors can make a living, while keeping the beach available for public use,” said Ms Chalermluck.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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