Patong Mayor ordered to get a move on

PATONG: Phuket Vice-Governor Winai Buapradit yesterday ordered Patong Mayor Pian Keesin to pick up the pace in carrying out orders to make Patong Beach more orderly, remarking that the Patong beachfront area appears to be slipping back into pre-tsunami chaos.

The order came during a meeting of a special committee set up to oversee the redevelopment of Patong Beach in line with the Government policy to make it more safe and attractive for tourists.

The 15-member committee, set up by Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangura and chaired by V/Gov Winai, met for the first time yesterday morning at Patong City Hall.

Other committee members include Mayor Pian, Kathu District Chief Khantee Silapa, Tourism Authority of Thailand Region 4 Director Suwalai Pinpradap and Phuket Tourist Association President Pattanapong Aikwanich.

In his opening comments, V/Gov Winai said there had been little progress in imposing order on beachside businesses and gave the Mayor until October to put things right.

He noted that jet-ski operators were now back in their old locations, despite a ruling limiting their operation to the south end of the beach, near Klong Pakbang.

Unlicensed drink vendors continue to operate both along the beach and Thaweewong Rd, despite having been banned, he said.

The number of beach lounger/umbrella sets for rent appears to have surpassed the interim 2,000 bed limit allowed by the Government while the TAT redevelopment plan for the area is being drawn up, he added.

PTA president Pattanapong Aikwanich agreed with V/Gov Winai, saying failure to impose order would hurt Patong.

“Tourist from many countries have started to visit Phuket again, many coming because they want to help out by spending their money here. However, most of them are staying at Kata and Karon beaches instead of Patong. If we don’t redevelop according to the plan, Patong could lose its attractiveness to tourists forever,” he warned.

Gov Udomsak earlier ordered Mayor Pian to organize the beach so that all sun loungers and umbrellas would be of the same design, thereby giving an impression of orderliness. Images of the new and orderly Patong were to feature prominently in tourism-promotion “roadshows” abroad designed to help Patong’s tourism industry recover.

When asked about the lack of progress, Mayor Pian said the Municipality was committed to carrying out the Government policy, but lacked the financial and legal tools to do so.

He said the Municipality had yet to receive the 700-million-baht budget earmarked for the TAT redevelopment plan for the area.

He also warned that the Municipality risked being sued in the Administrative Court if it tried to exert authority over the beachfront. The Municipality had already sent a letter to the Land Department asking for such authority, he said, but was still awaiting a reply.

Mayor Pian added that when the TAT plan was finalized, the Municipality would go ahead with the plan to color-coordinate beach chair-umbrella sets and limit their operation to specified zones.

“We will allow only beach chairs and umbrellas provided by the Municipality to be used, and we will allow local businesses to bid for the right to advertise on them,” he said, adding that the Municipality stood to gain needed revenue from this.

Phuket News

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