Proposal limits 4am closing time to one area

Proposal limits 4am closing time to one area

Phuket's walking street would be pilot zone

Soi Bangla in Phuket’s Patong area is disinfected to stem the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Soi Bangla in Phuket’s Patong area is disinfected to stem the spread of Covid-19 in March 2020. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is proposing only one pilot area, Bangla Walking Street in Phuket, to extend operating hours of nighttime entertainment venues until 4am after previous proposals were rejected by the Public Health Ministry.

The proposal was cut to one area from multiple locations, with the ministry hoping the cabinet will consider this issue at its meeting on Tuesday.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee last month dismissed a proposal to extend the period of alcohol sales, citing its study that forecast road accidents would increase by 27% and the number of road fatalities would rise by 10-20 per day if this measure is allowed.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the ministry agreed to reduce the pilot areas to only Bangla Walking Street in Phuket, which is famous for its night entertainment and should be ready to adopt the new opening hours without any obstacles as the majority of guests are foreigners.

He said the ministry needs only six months to prove that extending hours could help increase revenue by 25%. If the Bangla test is successful over the six-month period, more locations will be submitted for consideration, said Mr Phiphat.

"As the government set the 2023 tourism revenue target at 80% of the 2019 level, but the arrivals target at only 50% of the 2019 level, we should have an attractive mechanism to boost spending per person," he said.

"Night entertainment is the only promising choice we have at the moment."

Mr Phiphat said this proposal is backed by economic studies at Bangla, which found tourists usually spent the most during late-night hours, which could help stimulate spending by at least 25%.

He acknowledged the concerns raised by the Public Health Ministry, but said the tourism industry still needs assistance amid intense competition next year, with this measure the most effective way to rapidly earn income.

The cabinet meeting on Tuesday is also scheduled to consider other tourism stimulus packages, including a new phase of the "We Travel Together" subsidy campaign and marketing stimulus packages formerly known as "Booster Shots" worth a combined 8.7 billion baht.

The new phase of We Travel Together is expected to generate 33 billion baht for the local economy, while the stimulus packages are projected to help achieve the target of 2.4 trillion baht in tourism revenue next year.

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