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Phuket Opinion: Profiteering and politics of beach rules

PHUKET: The tactical positioning by Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada to remove himself from responsibility for any of the beach rules unfolding at Phuket’s key tourist beaches screams tomes about how sensitive the issue really is and what the potential fallout of a bad decision might result in.

tourism, patong, politics, marine, military, economics,

Sunday 15 November 2015, 09:00AM


Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat (in pink shirt) is surrounded by people while he was marking out the 10-per-cent zones at Patong Beach on Monday (Nov 9). Photo: Saroj Kueprasertkij
Phuket Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat (in pink shirt) is surrounded by people while he was marking out the 10-per-cent zones at Patong Beach on Monday (Nov 9). Photo: Saroj Kueprasertkij

Despite earlier reports that Gov Chamroen is a Phuket native, he is not. But he did spend a good part of his youth in growing up on the island. To that, he is no stranger to the critical role that the beaches play in the island’s economy.

Regardless of the recent development of shopping, adventure tours and even the MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) tourism markets that bring tourists to Phuket, the island’s beaches still remain Phuket’s top draw-card. Take away the beaches, and what exactly would tourists come here for? Let’s face it, They can get the rest elsewhere and at better value. These later “attractions” are at this stage still “add-ons”.

Perhaps Gov Chamroen is still finding his feet in his role as Bangkok’s top representative on the island – apart from the Navy or other “visiting” military figures – and there is no argument that he is an excellent choice for Governor as a person who knows Phuket and its issues well.

But he must step up and fulfill his role better than his predecessors That expectation is the very foundation of his selection as Governor of Phuket and an expectation leveled unto him by the very people he is expected to govern.

Attempting to side-step responsibility for what rules are to be enforced at the beaches – legal or not – will not work. If it goes right, the credit goes to the policy, not him. If it goes wrong, the responsibility will be laid at his feet, whether he says his underlings are responsible or not.

One crucial aspect Gov Chamroen will already be aware of in the beach rule fiasco is who exactly is deciding which rules apply where. Ironically, this may be his saving grace. While he knows he can rely on beach vendors and other vested interests to orchestrate the rules for their own maximum profit, those dictating the rules at other beaches may just as easily come up with different rules in order to lure different types of tourists to their own sands.

Whether this policy is a masterstroke or a recipe for disaster remains to be seen, but one thing we can be sure of though is the exercising of pure self-interest by major players in Phuket.

 

 

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Richard Vickers | 15 November 2015 - 09:52:41

The clearing of the beaches in 2014 was an exciting turn for the better, but ever since, it has turned into an absolute debacle. It was almost comical for a while, but at this point, it is ridiculously foolish, with no hope that Phuket officials will ever be capable of managing anything without the aspect of greed and corruption being the primary drivers. Add to this any lack of vision or long-term plan or strategy, and we can only expect to see this short-sighted foolishness continue. Phuket/Thai officials really ought to be embarrassed and ashamed.

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