Vendors appeal against ‘smart Patong’ plan

PATONG: Vendors and operators of other businesses have tried to persuade Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Santichai Euajongprasit and Patong Municipality Mayor Pian Keesin to allow them to trade on Patong Beach as they did before the tsunami.

Around 300 fishermen, jet ski owners, beach masseurs, renters of umbrellas and beach beds, motorbike rental businesses and beach vendors attended the meeting yesterday.

The traders have been barred from the beach since the tsunami, as part of the government’s plan to smarten up the beach. They will be allowed back eventually, but only in certain areas, and under the control of Patong Municipality.

The traders have received backing from Somkiat Kuru, former Deputy Mayor of Patong.

He said the renovation plan was for the benefit of the government alone, and does not reflect the reality of Patong.

He said, “They should ask the opinion of the public, maybe through a public hearing. The Patong of today is very different from the way it was 30 years or so ago.

“If Patong Municpiality wants to do this, it should do it fairly, and treat the hotels the same too.”

K. Somkiat was supported by Raksak Noochet, the President of Patong Municipal Council, who said that dividing the beach into “peaceful” and “activity” zones could restrict tourists’ freedom of movement.

He emphasized, “Some people may say that Patong Beach looks messy, but that is part of its charm. Tourists come to Patong because they love its style.”

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