Mr Phiphat’s visit was one of many stops on his inspection tour of nightlife areas popular with foreign tourists. He has already visited Khao San Rd in Bangkok as well as Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan.
Research conducted by Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, Phuket Rajabhat University and the NIDA Institute had confirmed strong support to extend nightlife trading hours, Mr Phiphat said.
“The results of the research conducted by all three institutions were the same. People, including tourists, will spend the most from 1am to 3am. That is the peak period. After 3am the spending starts to slow,” he said.
“The results of the studies will be presented to the CCSA and the Prime Minister, and to the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Interior, to discuss changes to the law so special zones can be set up in each tourist province,” Mr Phiphat said.
During his visits to popular nightlife areas, he has found strong support for extending the closing time, he added.
“More than 60-70% of foreigners agree that we should open such areas as special zones,” he said.
Business operators also agreed, with a positive effect on the economy, he noted.
“By staying open two hours later, there will be an increase in economic effect, or value, by 23-24%,” he added.
His visit to Bangla Rd last night was no different.
Mr Phiphat said he had spoken with many tourists ‒ mostly from India, the Middle East, Africa, Egypt, Australia and Malaysia ‒ and the response was “quite good”.
“More than 70% of tourists want to extend the hours of the nightlife establishments at night until 4am. They all agree to extend the closing time from 2am because it’s still a fun time,” he said.
“But this is not only in Phuket, but also Khao San Rd, Koh Pha-ngan and Samui ‒ they all have the same problem,” Mr Phiphat added.
Mr Phiphat pointed out that he will visit the popular Walking Street in Pattaya before the end of the month. “We will go to survey, discuss and ask tourists there,” he said.
Mr Phiphat highlighted the possibility of different closing times being allowed at different popular tourist areas. “It depends on the tourists who visit in each place. It may not be the same for other provinces,” he said.
“Each location must also hold a public hearing first to see if the local residents in that area agree or not. If you don’t agree, we won’t support it,” he said.
Mr Phiphat called on nightlife business owners to make sure the safety of their patrons is made a top priority.
“When opening late at night, safety must be taken care of, especially of tourists. Along Bangla Rd each venue has their own security staff. One establishment may have two to three security guards [sic] when the whole venue employs nearly 200 people,” he said.
“We have police volunteers, Tourist Police and Provincial Police to support the safety of tourists, but when tourists are concentrated in one area, the security guards might not be enough,” he said.