“This applies to expats and Thais, too, of course. They can bring their own sun loungers and umbrellas, and not rent from a vendor, but they must keep them inside the zones,” Mayor Chalermluck told The Phuket News today (Mar 7).
Complaints about any incidents with beach vendors about planting your own umbrella or sun lounger inside the zones are to be directed to Patong Municipality, Mayor Chalermluck added.
“Please inform our public relations office of any complaints by calling 076-344275. I have already informed them to record all complaints,” she said.
The same applies at all beaches in Kata and Karon, confirmed Rachen Phuntarakit, the Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) for Karon Municipality.
“This will make it very tight inside the 10% zones, but this is the best we can do for now,” he said.
“I have spoken to the vendors (at beaches in Kata and Karon) about this, so there should be no problems,” Mr Rachen added.
Likewise, any complaints about beach vendors in Kata and Karon are to be directed to Karon Municipality by calling 076-330186.
“Please call Karon Municipality and ask the operator to connect you with an officer from our legal division,” he said.
The Phuket News notes that the Tourist Police hotline 1155 also has volunteer translators for many languages, including Russian and Chinese.
“Later, we might suggest to the provincial beach management committee to allow tourists to bring their own sun loungers and umbrellas and use them outside the zones – but that has not yet been confirmed and will not happen until after this one-month trial has concluded,” Mr Rachen explained.
“So for now all sun loungers sand umbrellas – even those brought by tourists – must stay inside the 10% zones. New signs will be posted to explain this to tourists,” he said.
Vendors renting out sun loungers and umbrellas are permitted to place only two lines of sun loungers on the sand and also must remain within the 10% zones, Mr Rachen noted.
The news comes after sun loungers and beach umbrellas were allowed back at Kata Beach, Kata Noi Beach, Karon Beach and Karon Noi Beach (also called Relax Bay, in front of Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, over the weekend.
The rolling out of the return of the sun loungers was conducted under the watchful eyes of soldiers from the Royal Thai Army.
“The army will be keeping a close eye on the vendors, and will return to inspect all beaches about once a month,” Mr Rachen said.
Mr Rachen still called the move to allow the sun loungers back on the sands a “trial”, as announced by Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan last Friday (Mar 3). (See story here.)
The trial is scheduled to last one month, Mr Rachen said.
“After the trial has concluded, we will present maps showing the 10% zones at all four beaches under Karon Municipality’s jurisdiction to the Phuket provincial beach management committee for ratification,” he explained.
“The zones and rules might change – that is up to them,” he added.
The maps and zones were drawn up by Karon Municipality Public Works Chief Wanchai Saetan, Mr Rachen noted.
“These same maps were presented to the army at a meeting on Friday (Mar 3) for their approval before we started allowing the sun loungers back on the beaches,” he explained.
Mr Rachen noted there were still many issues to resolve.
“Under our old lists (before sun loungers and beach umbrellas were banned in 2014), we have 119 people who are permitted to rent out umbrellas as follows: 15 at Kata Noi Beach, 34 at Kata Beach, 67 at Karon Beach and three at Karon Noi Beach,” he revealed.
However, the “beach zone maps” obtained by The Phuket News (see photos above) show only 10 zones in total at all four beaches in Kata and Karon.
The length of each zone ranges from 50 metres each at Karon Beach to 187.5m each at Kata Beach – but each zone is only 7.5 metres wide.
Mr Rachen did not elaborate on how many people were empowered by Karon Municipality to rent out sun loungers on beaches at Kata and Karon.
The sun loungers were allowed back onto Patong Beach last Monday (Feb 27) only after Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, Deputy Commander of Royal Thai Army Region 4, the military unit responsible for all of Southern Thailand, gave his direct consent without any provincial officials present but during an “inspection” led by Patong Mayor Chalermluck. (See story here.)
The sun lounger and beach umbrella rentals in Phuket were banned by police in 2014 after high-ranking police revealed details of the cases they had built against Karon Mayor Thawee Thongchaem, who surrendered to police on June 4 that year to answer to a variety of corruption and ‘”taxi mafia” charges.
Central to the investigation was how officials offered dozens of government “concession” contracts to allow vendors to work on Kata and Karon beaches, with contracts totalling billions of baht. (See story here.)
The Phuket News has yet to confirm which beaches will be next to have sun loungers on the sand, but photos of sun loungers on Naiharn Beach circulated on social media today.