Patong beach chair “disorder’ slammed

PATONG: The unexpectedly swift recovery of tourism after the tsunami has resulted in “disorder” on Patong Beach, with tsunami escape routes blocked by beach chairs and harsh words at a recent meeting of Patong Municipality.

At the meeting, Vice-Governor Worapot Ratthasima said that he had received an instruction from Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura to control the disorderly state of beach chairs and umbrellas on Patong Beach.

Patong Mayor Pian Keesin told the meeting that the problem stemmed from rental operators reneging on an earlier deal struck between their representative organization, the Beach Chairs and Umbrella Operators Club (BCUOC), and the Municipality.

K. Pian said the agreement was that there would be no more than 2,300 beach sets, each consisting of an umbrella and two loungers, set out in two rows.

Ampian Tuantin, the chairman of the BCUOC, explained that the unexpectedly large number of tourists coming to Phuket was at the root of the problem.

The agreed number of beach sets, he said, did not meet the current high demand. He added that he had approached K. Pian and requested “flexibility” in the application of the rules during December and January. As a result, a third row of beach sets was allowed.

K. Pian agreed that this was accurate, but added that the situation was “not orderly” and that tsunami evacuation routes were sometimes blocked by chairs and umbrellas.

“You should tell your members to keep the beach chairs more orderly,” he told K. Ampian, “I don’t mind if you have two rows or three rows but it must be orderly. If not, we will fine those who are responsible for moving the chairs [out of line], even if some of them are foreigners.”

K. Ampian told the Gazette later, “The original number of beach chairs and umbrellas that we first requested permission for was based on our estimate immediately after the tsunami.

“The government didn’t want to have any beach chairs at all. But we proposed 2,300 sets because we thought that the tourists wouldn’t come back for at least three years.

“But they’re back in far larger numbers than we expected and that’s the reason we’ve added more beach sets. It’s just for the high season.”

He added, “We have regular customers and some of them even sent us money when we had no work after the tsunami. But if they come back now and have nowhere to sit, then we can’t give them the welcome we feel they deserve.

“We want to be warm and friendly hosts – just as the government wants us to be – but we can’t be if we’re restricted.”

Phuket News
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