Beaches belong to everyone. But what if a contract inked eight years ago draws a line in the sand, making a beach privately owned by a hotel? In 1998, the Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture commissioned Chateau Beach Resort Kenting to operate a government-owned hotel situated just off Dawan Beach (
The 2km beach has been made accessible only to Chateau's guests. Although most parts of the beach are well-managed -- much different from the chaos seen at nearby Nanwan Beach (
Now, however, the situation may be changing in favor of the public because the Environmental Protection Administration and Kenting National Park Headquarters are demanding that Chateau open up the beach.
"We don't think it's appropriate to place hotel operation in front of public interests. The beach is part of the public's assets," said Shih Chin-fang (
She said that because part of Chateau's beach has been deserted and it is owned by several government agencies and private owners, it should be collectively managed to generate the maximum benefit.
As to whether the Forestry Bureau has a different point of view, Shih said she would continue to negotiate with the bureau while keeping in mind the content of the contract signed with Chateau.
Currently, Chateau only allows the public to enter one section of the beach near its Kenting Chantilly Beach Resort (
Shih said she was not happy about the proposal.
"We respect the `users pay' concept, but the proposed fee is too high. The price should be lowered to only cover cleaning expenses and tourists' insurance," she said.
The national park headquarters has budgeted NT$17 million to plant trees and construct public facilities, including parking lots, toilets and showers to prepare for the opening up of the beach by the end of next year, she added.
Facility on hold
An operating license for Chateau's third hotel, also on Dawan Beach and originally scheduled to start operations this summer, has been put on hold by the national park headquarters until satisfactory solutions are worked out between the two sides.
"Of course we want to obtain the license as soon as possible, but we must be responsible to our room guests" in negotiations with the government, said Sharon Tu (
Wu Chang-yang (
"Now the best solution would be for the Forestry Bureau to review and amend the contract within the legal framework," he said.