Bar operators renew call for extended opening hours

Bar operators renew call for extended opening hours

The operators of night entertainment venues are renewing their call on the government to allow their businesses to operate until 4am instead of 2am as required by current rules, reasoning the extended opening hours will boost tourism spending and the economy.

Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Business Association, said allowing night entertainment venues to operate until 4am will boost business earnings by 20-30%.

In a bid to convince the government to allow extended opening hours, Mr Sanga said bar and nightclub operators under his association have pledged to respect the rules.

"The operators are ready to comply with security and safety measures. We want a policy that brings in more income, not restrictions," he said.

He also suggested the government test out the longer hours in some areas before proceeding, such as Bang La in Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, as well as Khao San Road, Soi Cowboy, and Patpong in Bangkok.

His call followed reports that Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, will ask the cabinet to consider the extended opening hours later today.

Mr Sanga also said the government should also allow alcohol sales around the clock. At present, alcoholic beverages can be purchased between 11am and 2pm, and 5pm to 12am.

When asked about concerns about increased drunk driving incidents, Mr Sanga said proper zoning and forward planning could help minimise the risk of accidents. He said checkpoints should be set up around entertainment districts to deter drunk driving, while more taxis should be made available.

Wirawit Kruasombat, president of the Patong Entertainment Business Owners Club in Phuket, said business operators have petitioned several agencies over the new closing times but received no response.

He said the 2am closing time does not fit in with the schedules of foreign tourists, many of whom would only start their night around 10pm.

During an earlier visit to Phuket in September, Mr Phiphat had said the ministry would propose easing the restrictions on night entertainment venues after conducting a survey to gauge the benefits of allowing night entertainment venues on Koh Samui of Surat Thani, Phangnga, and Khao San Road in Bangkok to stay open later. The survey found tourists spend the most money between 1-3am.

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