PHUKET: Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam was in Patong yesterday (July 12) to hear firsthand how more than 200 small hotels that were not legally allowed to open had been seized in foreclosure motions for non-payment of loans.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu was in Phuket in his capacity as Chairman of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC). He was joined by Professor Assoc Waraporn Samkoset, Chairman of the OPDC Sub-Committee to assess the promotion and development of high quality tourism in Patong.
The officials were greeted by a group of around 80 small hotel operators led by Manosit Jangjob, acting chairman of the Phuket Boutique Accommodation Consortium (BAC).
The group gathered in the parking lot behind the Krung Thai Bank in Patong, then moved around to show the Deputy Prime Minister some of the hotels that had been seized.
The group pointed out that small hotel operators are still suffering under the current economic conditions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“As a result, at least 200 small hotels in Patong have been subject to confiscation cases and auctioned off,” Manosit said.
“Therefore, he would like the government to help him. We are requesting a waiver to allow the opening of the [small] hotels and help solve the problematic law, which has been requested for a long time because we have a lot of problems with hotels forced to close because of COVID,” he added.
The consortium of boutique hotel operators in Phuket filed a formal request in August last year asking the government to extend the amnesty to upgrade their hotels to register under the Hotel Act.
Many small hotels do not legally qualify to register as hotels under the Hotel Act definition due to building requirements.
The amnesty, initially put into effect by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in 2016, was extended four years ago and finally expired on August 18, 2021.
“As a result, there are no tourists, no income and unlicensed hotels have to be closed, which makes it impossible to pay the bank,” Mr Moanosit said.
“Potential investors don’t want to take over the hotels because some people whose assets have been seized still have to pay their debts,” he added.
“Let the government have mercy on us, not just favor big hotels,” Mr Manosit said.
The issue has been repeatedly presented to relevant agencies, Manosit added.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu said he was aware of the situation and confirmed that he had received accurate information from many small hotel operators in the same situation.
“Therefore, I would like to address this matter urgently, as there are now a number of commercial operators who have already been affected. The subcommittee is dealing with dozens of other submissions, all of which information were requested and received in order to summarize them and present them to the Prime Minister as the next step,” he said.