Pattaya-area beaches to go umbrella-free one day a week

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Staving off the complete elimination of beach chairs and umbrellas that hit Phuket, Hua Hin and other Thai beaches, Pattaya-area beaches will go umbrella-free one day a week while providing a few more meters of free sand to the public on other days.

Chonburi Deputy Governor Chawalit Saeng-Uthai reviewed final beach-organization regulations Dec. 12 with Col. Popanan Luengpanuwat from the 14th Military Circle, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and acting Pattaya police chief Pol. Col. Supathee Bungkhrong, along with 400 vendors from Pattaya and Jomtien beaches.

Tourists have begun to reclaim the beach, bringing their own mats and towels to lie on, as shown here at the beach by Central Pattaya t-junction.Tourists have begun to reclaim the beach, bringing their own mats and towels to lie on, as shown here at the beach by Central Pattaya t-junction.

Pattaya has approved 113 vendors operating 260 sections spanning 1.1 kilometers of Pattaya Beach. Officials said 349 meters of sand were returned to the public since 2008 due to vendors quitting. Jomtien Beach will have 244 vendors operating 446 sections spanning 2.4 kilometers. Since 2008, 473.5 meters were returned to the public due to vendors quitting.

The new regulations also slightly reduced the size of plots and number of benches the vendors can operate. All plots are seven meters wide, with single plots running seven meters long. For those operating two to six blocks, plots will be 10.5, 14, 18, 22 and 26 meters long.

Vendors operating on 150 meters of sand must provide 50 meters free of benches for public use and all vendors of contiguous blocks must separate them with a pathway 1.5 meters wide.

Each Wednesday, all chairs and umbrellas will be removed and vendors must clean the beach, according to the new regulations. Chairs will be allowed on the beach until 7:30 p.m., an hour later than their current allowance.

Chawalit said any vendor found violating the new rules will get four chances. The first violation will carry a 500 baht fine. The second will carry a seven-day suspension, the third a one-day suspension and the fourth violation will see the vendor lose its operating license.

Officials planned to mark out borders for all the plots on Dec. 18 with Dec. 19 being a “big cleanup day” on Pattaya and Jomtien beaches.

Chawalit said he wants every operator to cooperate with the government in the reorganization for the benefit of the general public. The government will try to minimize losses for operators and if they cooperate they can rest assured that there will be no problem imposed by authorities.

“For Pattaya tourism to move forward, everyone must look into the mutual interest that everyone will gain from this organization,’ he said. “Everything we do, we do it for the benefit of the public.”

The deputy governor also added that the assigned sections cannot be sold, as they are public property. If they are sold, the government will revoke the license of that operator once authorities find out. Plots can only be handed down to the operators’ families from generation to generation.

Chawalit said 14 vendors were found to be renting out their plots and had their licenses revoked. They are free to file lawsuits against the government if they are unhappy, he said, adding that the government has more than enough proof to defeat any case.

The deputy governor said that after Friday’s big cleanup more vendors will accept the new rules and hopefully it will restore a good image to Pattaya’s beaches, as occurred in Phuket, Bang Saen, Koh Samui, and Koh Lipe, where all chairs and umbrellas were removed, restoring the beachfront to its natural state.

Vendor Sampan Meeyang said the new rules only slightly impacted his business by reducing his operating space a little, but he said he can offset the loss of income by selling food and drink. He said he understood the government was trying to provide more chair-free space for the public.