Most of the seized beach furniture appears to belong to local business people trying to skate around the complex new rules.
Police announced that individuals coming to the police station to collect their own personal sunbeds could do so and indeed, 15 tourists did so today, each claiming two sunbeds.
They were accompanied by kind-hearted citizens who denied being beach sunbed operators.
Police have already explained that they suspect the remaining furniture belongs to beach operators and will never be reclaimed. After all, any Thai who does come to claim multiple chairs will be deemed an illegal beach operator, will be fined B1,000 and will not get the sunbeds back.
This has already happened to five people last night who were found to own piles of chairs on the beach – each was fined B1,000 and each knows he or she will get no chairs returned.
Pol Lt Col Akanit Danpitaksat, Kathu Police crime suppression chief, explained, “Under the new beach management rules, sunbed businesses are not allowed on public land.
“I went to Patong beach yesterday evening and saw many sunbeds on the beach. We found many places where sunbeds had been piled up on the beach – piles of 20 or 30 sunbeds with covers over them. So our officers seized them and brought them back to the Police Station.
“Some belonged to tourists. That is fine. But what we are doing is preventing business people from encroaching again on public beaches – some of them are still trying to carry on business like before.
“If Thai people appear to reclaim the sunbeds we will charge them [with making a profit from public space]. But this morning, some tourists came and told me that they left their sunbeds with business operators, so we checked whether the sunbeds belonged to them or not.
“The problem is that some are elderly couples and could not carry the sunbeds to and fro between hotel and beach. Some business operators seized this opportunity to take care of the sunbeds – but they bought their own and added them to the pile so that they could rent them out.
“When we seized the sunbeds, [the operators] claimed that all the sunbeds belonged to the tourists.
“Some business operators charged the tourists B20 per sunbed [to leave them in a pile]. That is not allowed.
“We won’t charge the tourists if they come to get sunbeds back. If anyone tells them that they are not allowed to do so, they should tell the police.
“I want to stress that if the sunbeds operators occupy the beach, that is not allowed. In the morning, I sometimes see pickup trucks arriving, carrying sunbeds. That’s not right.
“I want to clarify once again: I am not banning tourists, only illegal beach occupation. Some business operators put out disinformation that the tourists came to protest against the police but we didn’t seize the sunbeds from the tourists; we took them from the piles left on the beach, which we confiscated, and we returned them.
“If tourists leave them at the beach, I will give them back without any charge. As for the Thai beach chair business operators, I don’t think they will dare try to reclaim their sunbeds.
“We are not putting pressure on the tourists but we don’t want to allow a situation where everything is run by just a few people.”