Manosit Jangjob, Acting President of the Phuket Boutique Accommodation Consortium (BAC), submitted yet another formal request to the Phuket Provincial Government for a reprieve allowing small hotels to re-open.
He repeated the explanation that small hotels were not allowed to re-open since an amnesty by the national government expired in August 2021 and that many small hotels could not be registered as hotels under the hotel Act as the required renovations to the buildings were not possible.
The gathering was met by Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Somprat Prabsongkram, who9 invited to discuss the issues at the Phuket Damrongtham Centre (provincial ombudsman’s office) at the “Phuket Provincial Administration Center”, where Provincial Hall is located.
The formal petition submitted listed six requests:
- A waiver be issued allowing small hotels to operate until a new ministerial regulation comes into effect.
- That a ‘Legal Sandbox’ using Phuket as a pilot province be established to be appropriate in the context of diverse tourism areas.
- That small hotel businesses that have registered for a waiver in accordance with the amnesty requirement be able to access assistance from government projects to alleviate the suffering from the COVID-19 crisis, including access to financial measures from both public and private financial institutions.
- That specific laws preventing small hotels from making the changes required in order to be legally registered as hotels businesses, such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment regulation requiring that 30% of the plot area be left undeveloped (the ‘green areas’ rule that requires buildings’ footprint to cover no more than 70% of the total square area of the plot), be waived
- To consider that Phuket is a special area where business operators are facing problems with laws regarding converting commercial buildings into hotels, especially where hotel licenses cannot be obtained due to the requirements of Land Allocation Act 2000.
- To help push for specific laws for small accommodation businesses that are more suited to the changing dynamics of today’s tourism.
As explained when Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam visited Patong last month, Mr Manosit repeated that many small hotels had been seized by banks and other financial institutions in foreclosure motions for failure to pay loans.
Financial pressures had forced other owners to sell their properties at very low prices, Mr Manosit added.
Many other businesses had received government assistance to alleviate the suffering caused by the tourism shutdown during the pandemic, Mr Manosit noted.
“We sincerely hope that we will receive relief assistance this time for members of the association,” he added, pointing out that the formal request included signatures of small hotel owners affected by the situation.
As with every other appeal the small hotel owners have filed in the past two years, Palad Somprat yesterday told the small hotel owners that the government was aware of their situation and were working on a solution.
However, he pointed out that any changes to the law will affect business operators throughout the country, not just Phuket.
Mr Somprat assured that the Phuket Provincial Government will issue a letter for small hotel owners to present to any relevant financial institutions in the hope that their financial constraints might be eased.
Mr Somprat also repeated the assurance given by Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong last month that the law would be revised so that businesses with 10 or more hotel rooms and the ability to accommodate 30 or more guests would be required to register as a hotel.
At last report the Hotel Act required that all accommodation owners with venues with five or more rooms that are rented out at daily rates must be registered as hotels.
According to Mr Somprat yesterday, the ‘10 or more rooms’ requirement under the Hotel Act was now in effect.
Mr Somprat also said that the Ministry of Resources and Environment was now in the process of revising the ‘green areas rule’ so that developers needed to reserve only 10 square meters of green space at the minimum.
All six issues raised in the formal petition would be passed on to the relevant national authorities to review so that appropriate measures could be implemented as quickly as possible, he added.