Phuket is speeding up help to more than 900 small hotel operators affected by closure due to their illegal construction on public land.
Deputy Phuket governor Pichet Panapong said on Wednesday many unlicensed hotels were found to have been built at prohibited sites, such as national park areas, Sor Por Kor agricultural land areas or designated zones in ministerial regulations on city planning. Some were found in breach of the Building Control Act.
There are 994 small-sized hotels in Phuket. About 53% were found to breach the building control laws. The laws violated most often were associated with the environment.
About 6% were found to breach city planning and hotel laws, which disqualified them from accessing state welfare and loans.
Only 91 of the 994 small hotels that require rectification have done the required work.
The Department of Provincial Administration, which supervises the implementation of hotel-related laws, is trying to assist the rest, as well as those in other provinces.
The Interior Ministry's Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning extended the period needed for renovation from 2016 to 2024.
But the hotel laws could not grant the extension as the since-dissolved National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) never issued such a law, rendering the hotels unable to seek state help. They were penalised, which led to liquidity issues.
Mr Pichet said the province has consulted the Interior Ministry's Land Department to provide help as some had bought condo units to turn them into hotels.
But the law says the building must first void condo or housing estate registrations before it can be turned into a hotel. The request must be accepted by all members of the housing estate.
Mr Pichet pointed to a revision of the laws to set the minimum number of hotel rooms to 10 and customers to at least 30 as a requirement for hotel registration, in an attempt to increase hotel rooms and customers.
The province is holding hearings for a draft ministerial regulation. Hotels with more than 80 rooms or covering over 4,000 square metres must conduct an environmental impact assessment, he said.
On Tuesday, 50 small hotel operators gathered in Patong to draw attention to their plight.
The group demanded the government amend the law as many of their assets have been seized and were auctioned off.