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Last week Samui lost the majority of its Walking Street Markets, and it appears the only one that remains is the west end of Bophut walking Street Market that is only being allowed to continue due to it being held on private land at The Wharf.
Although no clear motive for the ending of the markets has been established or confirmed to the Samui Times it appears that this is a move made by the army who want to rid the island of stalls operating on public land. It has also been suggested that the markets are only being temporarily suspended while the arm investigate to see if the vendors who benefit from the markets are making any contribution to the local economy in the areas they set up their stalls, such as making contributions to roads and education. However it has also been suggested that the move has come about after local businesses complained that they were losing trade during the markets and the stalls held not benefit to the respective villages. Other problems that could be causing the army to investigate are the road congestion the markets cause making it impossible for ambulances or fire engines being able to reach emergency situations and money disputes over who benefits from the rent of the plots. The recent assassination of a local man of influence during the Bophut Walking Street Market is rumoured to have been linked to the revenue from the stalls.
Whatever the true reason it seems that any Walking Street Markets held on private land will be allowed to continue, those held on public roads are not. The impact on tourism is yet to be seen, as many tourists choose Samui as a destination to enjoy the vibrant markets for shopping, socializing and enjoying local produce and local cuisine. The impact of the vendors, many of whom have no other income than that gained by the markets will no doubt cause distress and possible repercussions of the markets are banned permanently.