Scores of police and other Phuket law-enforcement officers targeted bars and other nightlife venues on Bangla Rd on Monday night (Jan 30), ordering the venue operators to follow the law and close on time.
The sortie of officers massed at the traditional police assembly point in front of the police box at the beach end of Bangla Rd at 11pm on Monday, when they were briefed on their objectives as paid out by a direct order from Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan. (See story here.)
Reporters from The Phuket News’ Thai language sister newspaper Khao Phuket went to the famed party zone at closing time this morning to speak with both venue operators and tourists to seek their opinion on the crackdown.
Mr Corrado Parise, an Italian owner of the Illuzion nightclub said that tourists were confused by the crackdown and didn’t understand why entertainment venues have to close at 1am.
“I understand that it is a law, but I want them to be reasonable. Most tourists usually come to the area’s entertainment venues after midnight.
“If we close at 1am, they will only have one hour for their night out. Some of them saved their money for a whole year to come here on holiday, if they find it like this I am not sure they will come back again,” Mr Corrado said.
Some Patong flower vendors also offered their opinion. “We usually sell out all flowers as tourists buy flowers for their lovers or new friends.
“However, for the past three nights we did not sell out because the entertainment venues closed early and tourists went back to their accommodation,” one vendor said.
“We hoped that we would have sold out like before. This is our main income, our children are still in school and if we don’t earn enough money, how can we get the money for our children,” she added.
Lisa, a Canadian tourist also said she didn’t understand what was happening.
“I visited the area three years ago and that time we really enjoyed ourselves. We were still walking around the streets at 3am.
“I love Thailand, especially the entertainment venues on Bangla Rd, and I came back here again expecting to enjoy my experience like I did before, but they closed early and I didn’t enjoy it,” she said.
An unnamed bar worker said that all entertainment venue staff wait all year for high season. “We don’t earn much salary, we earn more from tips we get from customers. We want officials to sympathise with us,” she said.
Meanwhile, entertainment venue operators gathered at the Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Feb 1) to file a petition for a special zone to be set up, allowing the venues to close later than the current legally mandated times until 6 am.
Phuket Vice Governor Teera Anantaseriwidhya received the petition on behalf of Gov Chockchai and confirmed it would be forwarded to its intended recipient, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.
V/Gov Teera thanked the operators for raising their concern, but still asked them to abide by the law. (See story here.)