Already struggling with increased competition and decreased tourist numbers, Dongtan Beach masseuses say illegal foreign workers are imperiling their incomes.
At the June 30 meeting of the Thai Masseuse Club, President Manee Kerdruang told Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and officials from the city’s Peace Maintenance and Public Health departments that members want City Hall to do more to protect them, as they pay annual fees to work, submit to drug tests and adhere to programs, such as the current “Pattaya White” project.
Manee Kerdruang, president of the Thai Masseuse Club on Dongtan Beach.
As part of the program, aimed at reducing drug use and creating harmony in the city, the 200-plus masseuses attending the meeting again took drug tests and pledged to uphold Thai traditions.
Registered beach masseuses must have a home registered in Banglamung District, a license from a massage school, must cooperate with Pattaya activities and be a member of a beach-massage club, which enforces such things as uniforms and registration numbers.
Manee complained, however, that foreigners were working on Dongtan Beach even though they have not paid membership fees of 500-2,000 baht, have not had formal training and often engage in drugs and prostitution.
Member Sopha Ajvichai said some of those claiming to be masseuses really are foreign tourists or vendors trying to get people to buy expensive items or illegally trade foreign currency. The scams, she said, damage the image of honest, hard-working masseuses.
Pattaya, Sopha said, has done little to combat the influx of foreign scammers and competitors and she called on Itthiphol to do more.
Theerasuk Jatupong, head of the Peace Maintenance Department, vowed to conduct serious inspections and arrest any foreigners found working illegally in the kingdom.
Maream Bilsalem, 50, hopes the city follows through. She said Dongtan Beach has long enjoyed a steady stream of sun worshippers thanks to its relatively secluded surroundings. Masseuses used to be able to earn 800-1,000 baht a day but, now, prices have fallen from 200 to 300 baht due to increased competition. Meanwhile, the number of tourists visiting the beach has fallen, seriously impacting her income.