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Foreigners 'own 90% of Phuket beach land'

Foreigners 'own 90% of Phuket beach land' - Foreigners - own - Phuket - beach land - research - Thailand - Chiang Mai - Rayong

About 90% of beach land in Phuket is controlled by foreigners through Thai nominees, a leading research body has found.

A similar situation exists in other prime tourism destinations in provinces such as Chiang Mai and Rayong.

Local officials and legal experts have helped clear the way for foreign investors to take control of the country's rice farms and property in resort provinces, according to research on foreign land ownership by the Thailand Research Fund.

TRF called a seminar on the research findings yesterday attended by economics and legal scholars.

There recently has been speculation that foreign businessmen, particularly from the Middle East, were snapping up rice fields in the central plains and elsewhere through proxy local companies.

Transnational business consortiums were said to be holding the land through Thai nominees, which is against the law.

Some farmers are leasing land they previously owned but have since sold to the foreigners' proxy firms, observers said.

Siriporn Sajjanont, from the economics faculty at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and a member of the research team, said the study showed many kinds of property had been bought by foreigners through Thai nominees.

"About 90% of land along the coastline in Phuket is controlled by foreigners through Thai nominees," she said.

Foreign investment capital was essential for developing Phuket and Samui, as Thais do not have enough money to invest themselves, Ms Siriporn said.



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