Thai government is under pressure to lift alcohol ban to accommodate ailing nightlife
As Thailand prepares to waive quarantine for vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries, the government is coming under pressure to relax some Covid-19 restrictions. In particular, the Bangkok Post reports on calls to allow restaurants to sell alcohol and resume nightlife. Numerous bars and clubs remain closed, with many operators wondering how Thailand’s reopening can succeed at all under such circumstances.
Thanakorn Kuptajit of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association says Thailand is at risk of losing foreign tourists to neighbours such as Singapore and Vietnam, where foreign tourists have no restrictions on alcohol consumption. Thanakorn believes the economy could recover if the ban on alcohol sales is lifted before the country’s grand reopening.
Meanwhile, Sanga Ruangwatanakul of the Khao San Business Association is also pushing for hotels and restaurants to be allowed to sell alcohol and is calling for the insurance requirements for vacationers to be aligned with other countries.
“We need to maintain our competitive edge as other countries want to attract foreign tourists to boost their economies faster.”
He adds that for restaurant operators in the Khao San area, 80% of their income comes from tourism, and for this reason, it is vital to lift the ban on alcohol sales.
“If restaurant operators are banned from selling alcoholic beverages after the country reopens, we think few food vendors and restaurant operators will resume their business and Khao San will be nothing but a cemetery.”
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi of the Thai Hotels Association has joined the growing chorus for the lifting of alcohol prohibition. She says that in Western culture, food is intrinsically linked to alcohol and that a glass of wine or beer with dinner is normal. She points out that these are the people Thailand is targeting in its reopening campaign.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Council of Thailand conducted a survey in the third quarter of this year, which found that out of 8 types of tourism-related businesses, nightlife venues were the only ones to experience a 100% decline in sales compared to pre-pandemic times.
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