Tourism operators are supporting the Bangkok governor's proposal to extend nightlife hours until 2am and lift the outdoor mask mandate to boost tourism demand and attract workers back to the industry.
Allowing things to get back to normal, especially nightlife, is the right move to improve the economy and tourism demand after many destinations have already ended restrictions, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA).
Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt wants to extend operating hours of entertainment venues to 2am, from midnight. He also suggested mask mandates in public areas and open spaces be removed as caseloads in the capital subside.
Mr Chadchart is expected to submit both proposals to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration for further approval.
According to the hotel sentiment index in May, conducted by the THA and the Bank of Thailand, 164 hoteliers were polled from May 11-25 and indicated the hotel employment rate has increased to 68% of the level in 2019.
However, 54% of hotel respondents face shortages of skilled workers as many experienced staff permanently left the hospitality business.
Mrs Marisa said 43% of respondents hired more temporary staff at the same salary rate, 21% froze both employment and salaries, and 18% increased salaries to attract new workers.
"Some hotel workers want to go back once businesses significantly rebound, which could be around the final quarter," she said.
"The labour shortage might be solved by then."
Most hotels are worried about higher operation costs, weak demand and limited operating hours of some businesses or tourism sites, according to the poll.
Mrs Marisa said extending hours for nighttime entertainment venues and ending compulsory mask mandates will support sentiment, but the industry still wants the Thailand Pass system to be removed to create greater flows of tourists.
As of May 31, the number of foreign arrivals this year stood at 1.3 million, of which 123,606 came from India, followed by the UK (96,323) and Malaysia (78,523).
Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said there is an urgent need to return to normality so tourism-related businesses can regain financial stability and win back the confidence of their workers.
Mr Chamnan said relaxations on night entertainment venues and outdoor mask rules should not only be adopted in Bangkok, but must be rolled out nationwide to show Thailand's readiness to welcome tourists.