Natalie Paris, The Guardian, December 2, 2014
Tourists in Phuket have been told to bring their own umbrellas to the beach amid confusion about new laws at the weekend
Beaches in Phuket have been subject to regular clean-up operations under Thailand’s military government that resulted in stalls and vendors being forced to leave and not return.
This meant holidaymakers began bringing their own parasols to shade themselves from the strong Thai sun but on Saturday, those who had brought them to Surin beach were told that they were not allowed them by the police.
The local news source Phuket Gazette said there was an angry reaction from tourists who were confronted by officers but that the matter was soon resolved when “navy personnel” appeared on the beach to explain that the ban did not affect tourists after all.
“For now, tourists are allowed to bring their own umbrellas to the beach,” Ma-ann Samran, president of the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organization, was quoted as saying.
“Mats are allowed too, but not sunbeds. There must be no services provided by local vendors on the beach.”
The ban on was first introduced on the beaches of Surin, Layan, Laypang and Bang Tao, in June – low season in Thailand.
At the time, Lee Cobaj, our travel expert based in Phuket, reported that large numbers of food vendors, masseuses, sun-bed renters and bars had been forcibly removed .
On the upside, this meant that bright white swathes of sand were left without a gaudy brolly or intimidating tout in sight. On the downside, there were fewer convenient places for holidaymakers to eat and drink.
“Everyone has been worried about what might happen with the sunbed and umbrella ban when we came into high season and unfortunately it’s turned out to be a complete shambles,” she said. “Apparently there’s no law to say that people can’t take their own umbrellas but I have heard of more than a few people being asked to take them down, including families with small children, causing yet more bad publicity for Thai tourism.”
Some well known beach clubs have been closed down by the ruling military and other popular hang-outs halved in size.
Other crack downs included the arrest of “illegal” taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and the bulldozing of illegal structures from beaches.
The Phuket News quoted local vendors who said they have been without an income after being unable to work on the beach for four months.
This article was written by Natalie Paris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.