Crackdown curbs illegal beach stalls

Local authorities have pledged to push ahead with the demolition of 22 stalls belonging to vendors accused of overcharging customers on Hua Hin beach.

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Provincial authorities launched a campaign on Wednesday to clean up a long stretch of the beach and reclaim public space occupied by illegal vendors. The campaign is part of the military's efforts to wipe out encroachment on beaches and in forest reserves.

As part of the crackdown, officials identified a total of 66 vendors encroaching on the beach, 22 of which were ordered to immediately demolish the structures housing their businesses.

The 22 stall owners lodged a complaint against the demolitions with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

A source close to the Hua Hin municipality said yesterday that the group of 22 operators had been the subject of numerous complaints from tourists over the years. They are accused of intimidating customers who complain about high food prices.

Hua Hin district chief officer Pornchai Thomkrajang and Hua Hin mayor Nopporn Wuttikul yesterday hosted a meeting with the 22 vendors and local officials.

Mr Pornchai urged the business operators to understand that encroaching on the beach is illegal and that new regulations are necessary to keep stalls in order.

The meeting agreed that stalls will be moved further back from the beach and must not measure more than six metres wide by 21 metres long. The stalls must also leave at least two metres of space along the beachfront where people can walk. 

In the past, stalls were six metres wide by 28 metres long.

New rules will also force vendors to display boards listing set food prices in front of their stalls.

Assistant district chief Anuwat Temchai said the NCPO must enforce the strict beach regulations. The new arrangements will come into effect as soon as the last illegal stall is removed and the beach cleared.

Prachuap Khiri Khan governor Veera Sriwattanatrakul said the campaign's next step will be to regulate food prices on the beach. He said officials and business operators will meet to discuss food prices and service standards next Wednesday.

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