PHUKET, Thailand --
From the chaos of the tsunami will come more order than has ever
been known on Phukets Patong Beach, according to a senior Thai
permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, is
charged with planning the reconstruction of Patong Beach, the
center of tourism on the resort island. He is at work on two
initiatives directly resulting from the Dec. 26 tsunami.
The first is an
evacuation plan that can empty the beaches of people within 10
minutes of a tsunami warning.
The second is an
improvement initiative that will permanently evict the vendors who
sold snacks, souvenirs and other goods and services to tourists
from shacks lining the beach.
Krairiksh, who was
the Thai ambassador to the U.S. from 2001 to 2004, said that the
shacks were illegal but that enforcement was lax.
All were swept away
by the tsunami, and the official said that plans have been approved
to build a central marketplace for vendors.
The beach itself is
actually now more beautiful than it was before, he said, noting
that the tsunami covered the beach with fresh sand and that the
water is considerably clearer.
As part of the
improvement plan, Krairiksh said, the government also will issue
standards for the use of beach umbrellas.
A visit to the
Patong waterfront found that some of the vendors are already back,
not on the beach but across the road, squatting in front of damaged
businesses that have not yet reopened.
About 70% of the
waterfront businesses are repaired and back in operation, about 20%
are undergoing reconstruction and about 10% are in ruins and showed
no indication that repairs were underway.
Editor-in-Chief Arnie Weissmann, send e-mail to [email protected].
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