Almost 2 years later, city narrows beach massage control options to 2

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It has taken nearly two years, but Pattaya City Hall’s decision on what to do about pesky beach masseuses has finally come down to two options: ban them entirely, or limit the pestering to just Jomtien Beach.

At an Oct. 4 meeting, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh listened as city bureaucrats presented their best suggestions on new regulations that control the swarm of masseuses on Pattaya, Wong Amat and Jomtien beaches.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presides over the meeting to try and decide how to handle the many masseuses on local beaches. Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presides over the meeting to try and decide how to handle the many masseuses on local beaches.

Their research, which began in January 2010, determined that most of the “massage therapists” are working on Jomtien Beach and, therefore, the city should either ban beach massage altogether or limit services to Jomtien under new city rules governing proper training, adequate equipment and mandatory registration.

Of course, both suggestions would need more study, officials agreed.

The determination is the latest in a long-running attempt by the city to corral the growing numbers of uncertified masseuses soliciting business from tourists on area beaches. After years of complaints, city officials promised to look into matter in 2009, finally suggesting masseuses be limited to two per plot in January 2010.

Nothing was done, however, until the city formed a committee to study the problem and options. That was April last year. Now, 18 months later, the options have been narrowed to two. No estimate was given on when a final decision might actually be made or action taken.

The city has tried to register the people offering massages on the beach. In the past year-and-a-half, 367 Jomtien masseuses registered, but none from Pattaya or Naklua. Bureaucrats determined about 800 are needed for Jomtien alone.

Already struggling with an embarrassing wave of scams and extortion by beach jet ski vendors, the city said it may try to eliminate the masseuses, who many complain are an annoyance, although many others quite enjoy a relaxing beach massage. Ronakit said too many vendors lack qualified skills and cause damage to city property and its reputation.