Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has exercised the all-powerful Section 44 to bring more than 20,000 illegal hotels and accommodation services nationwide under better state control and boost safety for guests.

The order, issued in his capacity as chief of National Council for Peace and Order, is aimed at making accommodation services which have violated laws related to land use, city planning, building control and hotel businesses legal.

The order notes that many people lease their buildings, houses or apartments in the same manner as hotels without permission or proper management.  There are thousands of such illegal hotels and accommodation businesses, scattered throughout more than 50 provinces, it says. 

Hotel owners who are aware their businesses breach the law must notify local officials to set things right. The order specifically stresses the need to have all hotels meet regulations in dealing with fires.

“A hotel must install a hand-held fire extinguisher per 200 square metre area,” it says. “It should have at least two fire extinguishers on each floor.”  The installation must be done within 90 days of the order’s announcement in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.

Local officials are also required to inspect hotels regularly to ensure they comply with the order. They have make inspections within 30 days of being informed of infringements. If any “irregularities” are found, they should give hotel owners 30 days to solve the problems, according to the order.

In case hotels face problems that bring them into conflict with the land use law, state agencies must report the problems in detail and the issue will be discussed with the National Land Policy Commission.

Its suggestions to solve the problems will be forwarded to the cabinet for a final decision. “The suggestions must be also based on national policies and plans on land management and land resources,” the order stresses.