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Phuket authorities get tough with illegal hotels

December 19, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A deadline – and possibly an accommodation crisis – looms next month in Phuket, with unlicensed hotels (which means most hotels) having been given six weeks to get legal or be closed down.

About three quarters of hotels operating in the Thai province appear to be illegal and they have until 31 January 2017 to comply with the regulations.

Phuket province consists of the island of Phuket (the country’s largest island) and another 32 smaller islands off its coast. The many illegal hotels there pay no tax, have no security systems and provide no insurance cover for guests. Those without parking space use nearby streets or public areas for guest parking, causing problems for neighbours.

A survey of Phuket province found 1366 hotels operating without licences and only 424 legal hotels. Most of the unlicensed ones are located in the Patong beach area in Kathu district, followed by Thalang and Muang districts, according to Phuket Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan, quoted in the Bangkok Post.

Patong offers some excellent hotels but also some less desirable ones. A TripAdvisor review of one property includes the memorable description: “Upon walking into hotel there was a terrible musty smell to the room. Then went to bathroom and found evidence of the previous customer still in the toilet. When trying to use electricity socket realised it was so old it did not fit a modern adaptor, very dangerous as it made buzzing noises and sparks flew when trying to use. Hot water in the shower also took about 20 minutes to warm up. And hot water in basin didn’t even turn on. Staff were also quite rude…”

Nobody is suggesting the hotel is unlicensed, however.

There are three types of illegally operated hotels.

  • Those without a hotel licence. Operators can apply for a licence provided facilities such as parking spaces, security systems and fire prevention equipment comply with the Hotel Act.
  • Apartments and condominiums which have a construction permit and a building opening certificate, but lack the amenities required for hotel operation.
  • The final and worst type. Hotels where the operators have neither a construction permit nor a building opening certificate.

“Illegally-operated hotels have until 31 January 2017 to legalise their operations,” the governor said.

“They still have time to notify us that their hotels are illegally operated and show their intention that they are ready to go legal within January next year, otherwise we will shut down and prosecute them.”

Written by Peter Needham

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