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Tourism minister says Phuket trial project will permit bars stay open until 4am

According to the ministry, increasing the closing time of bars from 1am to 4am will encourage overseas travelers to spend more money. Recent surveys conducted by three organizations, according to Phiphat, indicate that 25% of international tourists visit nightlife entertainment establishments after midnight and spend 44% more. According to Phiphat, during the Covid prohibition, foreign tourists spent an average of 61,000 baht on RT-PCR tests and other medical expenses. When exams were waived, 40,000 to 50,000 baht were spent by foreign tourists. According to Phiphat, foreign tourists would spend 44% more if pubs were open until 4am. Phiphat dispatched authorities to create a special zone and hold public hearings in response to requests from Chiang Mai nightlife companies to extend closing hours. According to Phiphat, bars in tourist destinations already violate closing hours, and this proposal would make it legal. Especially during the Full Moon Party, bars on Koh Pha Ngan remain open till 1 am. This month, he will confer with Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda before requesting the Cabinet to approve the Patong pilot project.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn stated that bars on a Phuket promenade will soon seek authorization from the Cabinet to remain open until 4 a.m. In an interview with Than Setthakij, Phiphat noted that his ministry wished to test 4am bar closing hours at Koh Samui, Khao San Road, and Ao Nang, but that the experiment will begin in Phuket’s Bang La promenade. Before testing the concept, Phiphat stated that the ministry must first organize public hearings to hear from locals, and the Patong hearing was met with overwhelming support. Khao San and Patpong Roads are additional tourist locations where the Tourism and Sports Ministry would attempt to close nightclubs at 4am. Patthaya Street near Bali Hapier, Ao Nang, Koh Samui and Pha Ngan, Surat Thani, Khao Lak. Phiphat desires to launch a pilot project in Pattaya to promote tourism in the east, but the ministry requires further time to conduct public hearings. Former director of the centre for promoting startups and business development at Suan Sunantha University Supakorn Pojamarnsirikul noted that the institution had determined, prior to the Covid epidemic, that extending bar hours to 4 a.m. would increase revenues for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the entertainment industry, particularly for locals. Supakorn asserted that foreign tourists ate supper prior to their 11 p.m. arrival at Bang La and spent 70 million baht per night between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Despite the fact that pubs are required to close at 1 a.m., many remain open for visitors until 4 a.m., and 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. are their busiest hours, he said. Supakorn stated that international tourists would spend an additional 25 billion baht annually in Bang La if bars remained up until 4am. Thanakorn Kupajit, a representative of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association, asserted that 4am closing hours will benefit businesses. The country will lose money if the administration delays its decision because the peak tourism season is approaching. Academics argued that expanding bar hours would be detrimental to the nation. The deputy director of the Centre for Alcohol Studies (CAS), Surasak Chaiyasong, warned that later closing hours will encourage more drinking, which will lead to physical assault, drunk driving, road accidents, and other crimes.

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