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Midnight closing branded ‘pointless’ in helping Patong nightlife businesses to recover

Midnight closing branded ‘pointless’ in helping Patong nightlife businesses to recover

PHUKET: The head of Patong’s nightlife business association has called for the government to ease its midnight ban on the sale of alcohol and trading by entertainment venues, branding the curfew as “nearly pointless” in helping nightlife operators recover amid the current tourism situation.

By Chutharat Plerin

Saturday 4 June 2022, 09:00AM

Cinderella Street: Punters at bars on Bangla Rd have until midnight to enjoy themselves. Photo: PPHO

Cinderella Street: Punters at bars on Bangla Rd have until midnight to enjoy themselves. Photo: PPHO

The midnight curfew, in effect since Wednesday (June 1), also does nothing to attract tourists wanting to enjoy Patong’s nightlife as part of their holiday, Weerawit Kruesombat, chairman of Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), told The Phuket News this week.

“We all need the sincere support of the government to earnestly drive the economy of Phuket and Thailand sustainably forward,” Mr Weerawit said.

The midnight curfew is an improvement on the previous conditions, which saw the sale and serving of alcohol in tourism “blue zones”, such as Phuket, restricted to 11pm.

“But it still doesn’t really answer the problem of generating income from entertainment venues in Phuket to help improve the economy,” Mr Weerawit said.

From Wednesday, all pubs, bars and karaoke venues were allowed to legally re-open without changing the nature of the primary business.

“We [nightlife venues] have been closed for about two years. Previously, we were able to open because we changed the format of the business to be a restaurant. It was enough to keep some businesses alive, but it did not really help the industry as a whole,” Mr Weerawit explained.

“Even though from June 1, the CCSA [Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration] will allow the opening of pubs, bars and karaokes, they are still allowed to open only until midnight. I think this still doesn’t answer the question [of helping the industry].

“As I have always said, tourists come here to relax on the beach and travel during the day. By the time they return to their hotel, shower and head out to enjoy the nightlife, they don’t reach Bangla Rd until about 11pm. So if businesses are open only until midnight, I think it’s almost useless,” Mr Weerawit said.

Patong is not alone in calling for later trading hours. Nightlife operators in Pattaya and Samui have also all called for opening times to be extended.

“Some people say that we should open early. But even if we opened at midday, there would be no customers because they are still on the beach or enjoying a tour. They don’t come out until late at night,” he said.


Mr Weerawit pointed out that nightlife operators have formally requested that the central government allow nightlife venues to remain open until 4am.

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“We have been calling for 4am closing for a long time, even before the pandemic, but the government has never cared. This time, we have been told that the Tourism Commission has proposed to appoint a working group to consider whether extending trading hours until 4am will have any effect. This seems like good news, but we have to wait.” he said.

“We have been pushing for this issue for almost 20 years, ever since the country truly opened up to tourism. But we still use a law that is backward. It was a law introduced 30 to 40 years ago, which doesn’t provide what is needed in tourist destinations,” he added.

“When the law was made, Phuket was mainly agricultural, but now it is almost 100% a tourist city, so the law can’t be applied here the same it can be applied to any other province that does not rely on tourism,” Mr Weerawit said.

“I want people to see our industry generate income, create jobs, create careers and contribute to the recovery of not just Phuket, but the national economy. Therefore, I want the government to support it in full, not just with a wink,” he added.

Mr Weerawait said he did not expect the June 1 ‘easing” of restrictions to have any major impact on the financial recovery of entertainment businesses in Patong, as most of the bars have already been converted to restaurants, for which it was already legal to serve alcohol until midnight.

“That’s why we need trading hours extended until at least 2am. This will give business operators the opportunity to differentiate their businesses, and tourists more options of the type of venue they want to enjoy,” he said.

Extending the trading time would avoid disappointment among tourists who discover they have to go back to their hotel room after only one hour of enjoying the nightlife.

Later trading would also avoid other issues created by the midnight closing time, especially tourist safety, Mr Weerawit noted.

“The nightlife venues have to close at midnight, but tourists just go to the nearest 24-hour convenience store, which is still allowed to sell alcohol. The tourists then hang around on the streets enjoying their drink, or they go to drink on the beach, which raises security concerns,” he said.

“When they go to the beach is the problem. There are no officers to control or supervise them properly. This results in security issues, crime problems and various other problems that may arise. A serious incident might not happen today, but if we keep allowing this, it definitely will happen,” Mr Weerawit added.

“Another important thing is cleanliness. People leaving garbage strewn along the beach is another problem for local municipalities, who must clean the beach each morning before more tourists arrive to enjoy the day,” he said.

“We need this issue to be resolved in a timely manner. If possible, the trading time must be extended a little more. This will not affect the number of people infected with COVID. If we are talking about legal reasons, that the law does not allow different times for different areas, I think there should be a compromise. I believe Phuket can and has the potential to do better.” Mr Weerawit concluded.

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Kurt | 06 June 2022 - 02:01:35

DKK talks for the Bangla visiting punters, overall just Phuket visiting bachelor eskader. Totally ignores the families with children who after dinner walk Bangla rd to beach and sit there with drinks, not just beer!

DeKaaskopp | 05 June 2022 - 13:22:52

@Kurt  No such thing like one country  one rule. Apart from that.Sitting on the beach drinking cheap beer and watching the stars? Your idea of a holiday on Phuket? Will there be someone play guitar and everyone sings " Kumbaya my lord,kumbaya" too ? Lol.

JohnC | 05 June 2022 - 09:55:48

No more pointless than Soi Bangla itself.

Kurt | 05 June 2022 - 09:03:05

Thanks for making me laugh, mr Weerawit, about you 'beach talk', to justify your bar times. What a load of crap. Many tourists not go Bangla, buy 3 times cheaper drinks in stores and enjoy together night time beach sitting. See the stars, listen to the waves. Not need to be controlled/supervised. It are people on holiday, bringing money to Phuket, remember? 

Kurt | 05 June 2022 - 08:48:08

Phuket 'bar drinking stop time' should be the same time as in BKK and Pattaya. Don't see the need for a different position of Phuket in this. One country, 1 rule.

Fascinated | 04 June 2022 - 22:34:36

DKK- I suggest you read the article- he talks about people going out and dong other things in the day- they sleep in til 2 or 4 pm- they are NOT going on tours or to the beach. As I stated below if Pattaya Party Central can manage with a 2am closure why can't Phuket. If you need to drink til dawn you have a serious problem. Again with the article and its errors 7-11 stop serving alcohol at 115...

DeKaaskopp | 04 June 2022 - 14:45:22

@Fascinated   " Go out earlier "  Lol ! You are definitely not someone who likes to party, probably never have been too ! Zones like "Bangla Road" should be allowed until 04.00 am. Other places on the island would do fine with 02.00 am. Midnight closing times are a joke ! 

Kurt | 04 June 2022 - 13:23:33

Seems the chairman of PEBA doesn't know what is really going on  at Bangla. Or he pretends. Drinking/entertainment is open till 2am, not till ordered midnight. Daily two hours  bribe time. That is why a beer there is expensive.

Ash Ward | 04 June 2022 - 12:35:35

What a load of B/S.  Every Bar in Soi Bangla now close at 2am. They have no regard for the midnight closing time.
The main problem in Patong is a lack of tourists and many bars wanting 120 baht for a beer. Greedy Bar owners.

Kakka2 | 04 June 2022 - 11:15:06

then they should propose a bigger bribe to governor and done deal...

Fascinated | 04 June 2022 - 11:01:07

I commented a few weeks back that the 'we need to stay open til 4am' elephant in the room would raise its trunk again. It's not rocket science- GO OUT EARLIER. Absolutely no reason to remain open til 4am (or 6 in the case of one night club at the top of Bangla).Patts and Bkk manage fine with 2am in normal times- why is Hkt 'special'?

BigaAResort | 04 June 2022 - 10:31:51

The police will not like that!,close at 4 am! more very drunks, longer hours,no extra cash for overstay closing time! No chance


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