Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has approved the extension of closing hours for nighttime entertainment spots such as pubs and bars in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, and Phuket to 4 am, starting December 15.
In a joint statement released after Friday’s integrated tourism plan meeting, Mr. Srettha and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that they had explored a trial extension of nightlife opening hours in collaboration with the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Royal Thai Police, and the governors of the four provinces.
This initiative, aimed at boosting tourism, is set to be initially rolled out in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, and Phuket, with an anticipated start date of December 15.
Mr. Srettha mentioned that relevant agencies would evaluate the optimal duration for this experimental phase. For now, the extended hours are a temporary adjustment, with further discussions expected regarding amendments to the zoning laws.
“We intend to spur the economy and tourism domestically. The plan will also help generate more income for businesses in the tourism sector, including restaurants and entertainment venues,” Mr. Srettha stated.
He emphasized that foreign visitors often dine later, around 9 pm to 10 pm, unlike the local Thais. He reasoned that restricting service hours to midnight or 2 am would necessitate these patrons to eat earlier, potentially reducing their overall food consumption.
Mr. Srettha further indicated the feasibility of the 4 am closure after consultations with security departments and mentioned that the Ministry of the Interior would subsequently review matters related to zoning and permits. Law enforcement will aim to increase public security and intensify the crackdown on illegal narcotics.
Mr. Anutin disclosed the administration’s intention to revise the closing times of restaurants operating similarly to nightclubs, from midnight to 2 am. Under existing regulations, the sale of alcoholic beverages is permitted only until midnight, with musical entertainment prohibited after that hour.
The Ministry of the Interior is collaborating with the police force to revise the ministerial guidelines, which will require the approval of the cabinet. Following this, there will be proposals for legislation that empowers provincial governors to declare the zones and operating times for nightlife venues.
When queried about whether administrative personnel would have the power to oversee the entertainment establishments post-extension, Mr. Anutin confirmed discussions with the national police chief and the head of the Provincial Administration Department to establish a special task force to address this issue subsequently.