Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has agreed to extend opening hours for nighttime entertainment venues, including pubs and bars, to 4am in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Phuket from Dec 15.
Speaking after an integrated tourism plan meeting on Friday, Mr Srettha and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul issued a joint statement saying they had discussed extending nightlife opening hours for a trial period with the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Royal Thai Police and the four provincial governors.
The measure will be first implemented in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Phuket to boost tourism and is expected to be effective from Dec 15.
Mr Srettha said relevant agencies will consider how many months are suitable for the trial. The extension will be temporary for the moment, and discussions about a change of zoning will be held in the future.
"We intend to spur the economy and tourism domestically. The plan will also help generate more income for business in the tourism sector, including restaurants and entertainment venues," said Mr Srettha.
He pointed out that some foreigners do not have similar dining habits as Thais. Some dine at around 9pm-10pm. If opening hours are limited to midnight or 2am, customers might have to dine earlier, and that decreases the amount of food they order.
Mr Srettha also said extending opening hours to 4am is workable after having spoken with security agencies and added that the Interior Ministry will look into zoning and licences.
Police will try to ensure people's safety and increase illicit drug suppression.
Mr Anutin said the government also plans to extend the operating hours of restaurants that are run like entertainment venues from midnight to 2am.
The current law only permits the selling of alcoholic drinks until midnight, while music is not allowed after midnight.
The Interior Ministry has talked with police to amend the new ministerial regulations, which need cabinet approval. Afterwards, the ministry will propose a law allowing provincial governors to announce the zoning and operating hours of the night entertainment venues.
Asked if administrative officials will have the authority to inspect entertainment venues after hours are extended, Mr Anutin said he has talked with the national police chief and director-general of the Provincial Administration Department to form a special unit to deal with the matter later.