Five years after the government ordered beach chairs and umbrellas off the nation’s beaches at least once a week to restore nature to coastlines, Pattaya is doing away with “No Chair Wednesdays” amid the coronavirus recession.
At a Wednesday meeting with local beach vendors, Pattaya Deputy Mayor Manote Nongyai laid out 17 changes to beachfront-busienss regulations. The major change will be an end to the Wednesday practice of removing all beachchairs and umbrellas to allow for beach cleaning and provide a “back to nature” experience once a week.
The once-a-week prohibition was approved by the military junta in late 2015 amid the generals’ campaign to ban chairs permanently from Phuket and other beaches. Pattaya’s officials, at the time, told beach vendors they should be relieved they could continue working at all.
But five years later, operators have said the policy has been nothing but bad fortune that has only worsened since the coronavirus pandemic emerged. There are no foreign tourists and not enough hours to service the few Thai visitors, they said.
So, once approved by Pattaya’s mayor and full city council, chairs and umbrellas will be prohibited only until 10 a.m. on Wednesday while the beach is cleaned. Operators can then set up and operate the rest of the day.
The day also will be getting longer. Instead of having to close up shop at 6 a.m., vendors now will be allowed to operate until 8 p.m. daily.
Instead of the Wednesday shut down, Pattaya-area beaches will set aside three consecutive days every four months where intensive cleaning, sand-sifting, tree-trimming and landscaping work is done.
In Pattaya and Wong Amat, that quarterly event will occur the third week of the month. In Jomtien and Pratamnak Hill, it will be the second week of the month. Schedule changes will occur if the cleaning dates fall on holidays.
In exchange for the extended hours, Pattaya wants chair operators to help them with parking problems, asking them to report beachfront businesses, vehicle-rental businesses and even other beachchair vendors parking illegally and creating traffic congestion.
Vendors agreed, but said Pattaya needs to create more parking areas, especially on weekends and holidays, for Thai tourists that are now the only source of revenue. Operators suggested Pattaya put up signs pointing motorists to lots and then allow parking on beach roads on weekends and holidays.
Manote said he would take the suggestions to the mayor and council.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Pattaya Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.