Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthing yesterday (Jan 7) ordered a host of officials to respond to the video, posted by “Aziz Yotharak” and which was causing an uproar on social media.
The video shows the tourist engaged in conversation with a representative from the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket resort, which fronts onto the beach at Bang Tao. The hotel staffer is seen pointing to other areas along the beach while the tourist, exasperated, continues the debate while waving his arms.
Arriving at the scene in force to defuse the situation were Thalang District Chief Kongtho-adul Chuthong, Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor) Chief MaAnn Samran and Cherng Talay Village Headman Jirayut Jirasonthon.
“We can understand by looking at the area that people think that the area is public beach land, but it isn’t. The area is private land owned by the resort,” Thalang District Chief Kongtho-adul said.
Mr Kongtho-adul pointed out that the same misunderstanding occurs with beachfront land owned by the nearby Angsana Laguna Phuket resort, which also owns sand-covered land that connects with the public beach.
“Everyone thinks this is public beach area, but the land is owned by the resorts,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket General Manager Gordon Aeria today (Jan 8) issued a statement in response to the high-profile publicity.
“Regarding the viral video shared on 7 January 2017 on social media, we would like to inform the public that the hotel staff did not expel the tourist featured in the video from the property, as it was claimed,” the statement read.
“Concerned that the tourist and his children may be harmed by falling branches, the tourist was politely asked to move from underneath a tree where he and his children were resting. It is the responsibility of the hotel management to safeguard the wellbeing of all guests using our property.
“Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket takes great pride in promoting tourism to Thailand and Phuket. We are fully aware of our responsibility as an ambassador of Thai hospitality and we always do our utmost to take good care of tourists, be it our hotel guests or otherwise,” the statement concluded.
The Phuket News notes that the issue of the beachfront area in front of the two resorts in question has resurfaced time and again over the years, despite a high-profile investigation in 2004, some 13 years ago, finally confirming which land is privately owned.
The resort management and the Land Office had posts installed to mark the resort’s private land boundaries. The posts, as is usual in Thailand, include the number of the land title that confirms the land boundaries’ accuracy.
The Phuket News also notes that coastal erosion by strong waves during the southwest monsoon each year has only added to the confusion by pushing sand further up onto the adjoining plots of private land - making the private land look like part of the main beach.