Phuket province has given a deadline of Jan 31 for unlicensed hotels to go legal before starting to shut them down in February next year.
According to Phuket Governor Chokchai Dejamornthan, a survey of the province in October found that there were 1,366 hotels operating without hotel licenses, with more than half located in the Patong beach area in Kathu district, followed by Thalang and Muang districts.
“Illegally-operated hotels have until Jan 31 to legalise their operations,” he 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.”
Provincial authorities in Phuket officially announced in late November that they would start in February 2017 to crack down on hotels without hotel licensees including those modified from other residential types, such as condominiums, apartments, mansions, shophouses or individual houses.
Illegally-operated hotels are classified into three types. The first type is hotels without a hotel license. Operators in this category would be able to apply for a hotel license as their facilities to become a legal hotel such as parking spaces, security systems and fire prevention measures comply with the Hotel Act.
The second category includes those in the grey area like apartments and condominiums. They have a construction permit and a building opening certificate, but without amenities required for hotel operation.
The final type covers businesses without a construction permit or a building opening certificate.
“If a condo unit owner wants to charge a daily rent like hotels, they need to ask for permission from other co-owners before applying for a hotel license,” he said.
Mr Chokchai, a former governor of Maha Sarakham, said illegal hotels face a Jan 31 deadline to register as a legal hotel.
Those unable to register by then should submit an intention that they will do so and can ask for a grace period, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Phuket aims to make all illegal hotels legitimate businesses within two years as legally-operated hotels have been hard hit by illegal ones.
At present, there are 424 legal hotels in Phuket with a combined 45,740 rooms. Nearly half or 204 hotels with 19,395 rooms are in Muang district. Kathu district has 148 hotels with 18,839 rooms and Thalang district has 72 hotels with 7,506 rooms.
“Illegal hotels pay no tax. They have no security systems and no insurance is provided for guests. Many of them have insufficient parking spaces and use public areas for their guests’ parking which causes trouble to neighbors or those nearby,” he said.