Pattaya slakes its thirst
Province finally ends alcohol ban after uproar from tourism operators
The alcohol ban was lifted in Pattaya on Friday, a move hailed by tourism-related businesses that had complained they lost 60% of their income in what was already a lukewarm market.
The Provincial Communicable Disease Committee issued an order on Friday stating that restaurants and hotel eateries with a Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certificate located in blue zone areas are allowed to sell alcohol, while adopting preventive measures in a Covid-free setting.
The available hours are limited to 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 11pm.
Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said the province's blue zone was reporting less than 100 daily infections. In contrast, Bangkok has more than 700 cases per day and Phuket more than 100, but both are allowed to serve alcohol to guests.
Bookings for year-end banquets and staff parties from corporate groups at industrial estates in Si Racha have also fallen as a result of the ban, he said.
On Friday, 13 tourism-related organisations released a statement asking the provincial governor to lift the alcohol ban at SHA Plus-certified restaurants and hotels in blue zone areas, which includes Bang Lamung, Pattaya, Si Racha, Koh Si Chang, Na Jomtien and Bang Sare.
The number of international tourists arriving in Pattaya from Nov 1 to Dec 2 stood at 9,437, or 295 tourists per day, accounting for less than 10% of the 4,000-5,000 daily average during the pre-pandemic years.
Tourists' alcohol consumption in Pattaya averaged 500,000 baht per day prior to the pandemic.
Without alcohol sales in hotel outlets and restaurants, operators said they have lost almost 60% of revenue.
Mr Thanet said most operators also raised concerns about discrimination as convenience stores, particularly big chain stores, can sell alcoholic beverages as normal to tourists.
He said the country's reopening hasn't helped hoteliers much as most tourists under the Test & Go scheme spent just one night in a hotel in order to obtain a Covid-19 test result. Many have families or businesses in Thailand with their own home.
Hotels in Pattaya had around 9,000 room nights booked, which is inadequate to shore up business, said Phisut Sae-Khu, president of the Thai Hotels Association's eastern chapter.
He said operators are losing hope as the peak season progresses, with major markets like Russia, India and China only expected to arrive next year, while European countries are battling new waves of the virus.