Nightlife venues have been allowed to remain open until 1am or 2am, depending on each venue’s respective operating licence, since last Saturday (June 25) following a provincial order issued by Governor Narong Woonciew earlier that week.
However, Mr Prab has noted that public health and inflation are now the key concerns for Phuket’s nightlife industry, which suffered heavily with forced shutdowns ordered throughout the past two years.
“Resuming the opening hours until 2am [sic] is good in terms of tourism and various economic activities that will stimulate employment. It helps tourists gain confidence in coming here and it provides an opportunity to realise a very high potential in the tourism industry, and especially in the various service sectors of Phuket, and Patong,” Mr Prab said.
The move is likely to attract more investors looking to enter Phuket’s tourism and entertainment industries as well, he added.
“However, we have not yet achieved the goal of nightlife venues being allowed to stay open until 4am, which would make much more sense for an international tourist city like Patong," Mr Prab said.
“This would bring even more economic benefit to the island,” he added. “I wanted this to happen by July 1, but we have to give those involved time to work first. The request has been submitted, but it involves three separate laws, some of which overlap.
“The request must go through the proper legal channels first, then be presented to Cabinet for approval, but I still want them to proceed with this as quickly as possible,” Mr Prab explained.
The easing of the nightlife venue closing times comes as Phuket is starting to experience a slight increase in the number of tourists coming to the island, and as Phuket yesterday (July 1) welcomed its first tourists to arrive without having to register via Thailand Pass or having US$10,000 COVID insurance.
“Overall, there has been an increase in tourism, with the number of tourists gradually increasing,” Mr Prab said.
“Even though this is the low season, we have got the attention of tourists, especially from India. There are also some Europeans such as Germans, coming to Phuket. The number of Americans and British is also gradually increasing,” he said.
“This is increasing confidence in the economy, and in employment. It is allowing people to have jobs, to open their eyes and live in a time of economic crisis like now. People are starting to have hope for the opportunity to have a better life together,” Mr Prab said.
“In addition, we are still developing the adjustments required in order to be allowed to operate our businesses,” Mr Prab noted.
Entertainment venue operators must be strict in complying with public health measures still in effect as COVID-prevention measures, Mr Prab said.
“As for the tourists themselves, they have to take care of themselves and be careful not to spread any infections,” he added.
“We must uphold the requirements to prevent the spread of infections. There are strict measures such as social distancing and providing hand wash gel, as well as other requirements, that must be provided for tourists’ protection,” he noted.
“Overall, preventing the spread of any infections will give our country a better image, especially in terms of readiness to receive tourists, and this will improve our economy, and make people happier,” he added.
“Now we have a better understanding of how to live in a new way with COVID-19, but entertainment venue operators must realise that we are still unable to manage 100% of infections. Public health matters because we still have to live in the world with COVID-19. We will not be able to completely overcome it,” he said.
A key condition of entertainment venues reopening is that they must comply with Thai Stop COVID 2 Plus (TSC 2+) measures as set out by the Ministry of Public Health and mandated by the CCSA in Bangkok.
In the days leading up to the easing of closing time last Saturday, senior police officers including Maj Gen Saksira Phuak-am, Deputy Commander of Region 8 Police, conducted inspections of venues along Bangla Rd.
Joining Maj Gen Saksira were Col Chaikiat Wiriyasathitkul, Deputy Commander of the Phuket Provincial Police; Lt Col Ekachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police; and Lt Col Preecha Baringpatanakul and Lt Col Wuttiwat Raising Boonjinda, both Deputy Commanders of the Patong Police.
Another key concern for Phuket’s tourism industry are the rising prices due to inflation, Mr Prab noted.
“While everyone is adjusting to the New Normal lifestyle, another concern is inflation, the economy and more expensive goods and services. Just rising fuel prices mean transportation costs will increase, as will the prices of goods and services,” he said.
“Therefore, the quality life of the general public and business operators themselves are being affected in terms of wages and the rising cost of living. Water and electricity bills are going up.
“We have to ask the government for help in managing inflation, especially the prices of goods that are necessary for everyday life. This is needed to help reduce the burden on the labour force, and the operating costs borne by business operators, because people are already living a very difficult life,” he said.