Mr Prab first denounced the 11% excise tax on his Facebook page last Friday (May 31), saying that entertainment operators in Patong were already suffering heavily from plunging tourism figures.
He also posted photos of the streets of Patong devoid of traffic during the daytime.
Mr Prab branded the excise tax as “state sponsored extortion”, and blamed the tax for businesses having to hike prices in a town that already has some of the highest ground rents on the island.
“Patong is already experiencing economic problems, and it is the low season, ” Mr Prab said.
“At the same time, through its new tax calculation, the Excise Department is trying to take 11% tax from the income of entertainment operators each month,” he added.
Mr Prab estimated that 35% of entertainment businesses in Patong’s usually-bustling entertainment district, centred around Bangla Rd, had already folded.
He also warned that more closures were to follow.
Weerawit Kreuasombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), which represents some 500 entertainment businesses in Phuket’s busiest tourism party town, in December branded this most recent tourism high season in Phuket as “the worst high season in Patong in 10 years”.
Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, Director of the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), strongly denied that the Phuket was suffering an incredibly low number of visitors during the tourism ‘high season’.
Ms Kanokkittika admitted that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Phuket so far that month had dropped by 2.63% compared with the same period year before, but also pointed out that the fall in Chinese arrivals had been offset by a 3.63% increase in the number of arrivals from other source markets. (See story here.)
The island’s top nightlife drawcard Bangla Rd in Patong has been taking a battering in business in recent years as the tourists visiting Phuket – and especially Patong – has changed in terms of demographics and source markets, despite officials reporting record numbers of tourist arrivals.
In 2016, Sompoch Sukkaew, PEBA’s chief legal counsel, noted, “Over the past three years, most bars were averaging about B90,000 revenue per day at this time of year … Now they’re making just B40,000.
“Small bars in small streets off Bangla Rd used to average B40,000 to B50,000 a day, now they’re down to just B10,000 a day.”
Live music venues were suffering worse. “They used to average about B360,000 as day during the peak season, but now they’re making just B60,000 to B90,000 per day,” Mr Somphoch said.
That trend has continued. (See story here.)