CHIANG MAI — Operators of about 600 buildings being used illegally as hotels have been given 30 days to apply for a proper license or be shut down.

The announcement, effective on Dec 8, was signed by provincial governor Pawin Chamniprasat.

Mr Pawin told a meeting of agencies responsible for regulating hotels that Chiang Mai is a big city and popular tourist destination with high demand for rooms.

There were many premises licensed for other purposes, such as apartment buildings and condominiums, which were being operated illegally as hotels.

Condominiums and apartments cannot legally rent rooms on a daily basis, as hotels do.

Mr Pawin said the announcement requires operators of illegal hotels to follow proper procedures, including seeking permission from a local administrative body, and apply for an operating license within 30 days.  They must also meet the required safety standards.

Deputy governor Prachuap Kanthiya said Chiang Mai has 353 legally licensed hotels and about 600 others, mostly dormitories and condominiums, being used illegally as hotels.

The illegal operators are required to apply for a license under the Hotel Act.