Pattaya opposition builds to 4 a.m. booze extension proposal

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Pattaya bar and club owners are increasingly skeptical that selected districts in popular cities should be allowed to serve alcohol for two hours longer than the current 2 a.m. closing time.

Pattaya bar and club owners are increasingly skeptical of the Tourist Authority of Thailand’s recommendation that selected districts in popular cities should be allowed to serve alcohol for two hours longer than the current 2 a.m. closing time. They say that the proposals lack clarity as well as penalizing nighteries not lucky enough to be included in the new liberal zones.



The TAT proposal, which needs approval the Thai Cabinet and a sign-off from the prime minister, eyes longer opening for yet-to-be-named districts such as Khao San Road in Bangkok and Walking Street in Pattaya. Tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn believes that such a move will boost international tourist numbers at the expense of local rivals such as Cambodia and Vietnam. However, he has also suggested that “public hearings” were needed and that the idea might only apply to weekends.


Critics say the idea hardly worth the effort. Khun Tam Saelim, from the Pattaya Entertainment Alliance, said, “A city-wide improvement to 4 a.m. is fine, but to talk of certain streets having different regulations from their neighbors on some nights of the week is not progress as it boosts jealousies and adds to confusion.” He pointed out that Cambodian tourist areas in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap remained open until the last customer left rather than at some pre-determined moment.



Meanwhile, Pattaya’s gay bars bristled at the thought of discrimination. Khun Zac, who runs a popular venue, said, “If the new rules don’t include a gay district, they are going to lead to a lot of bad publicity.” Other critics pointed out that the police did not uniformly enforce the current closing time of 2 a.m. Taxi drivers in the Walking Street district said they were still ferrying customers home as dawn broke.


Opponents of the current proposal also include anti-booze pressure groups such as the Thai Centre of Alcohol Studies which claims to have evidence that extending hours leads to more traffic accidents, tragic hospitalizations and street crimes such as necklace-snatching in the wee hours. But most commentators believe that Thailand’s determination to win back international tourists by virtually decriminalizing marijuana (except smoking in public) and seriously considering the opening of casinos will surely extend to 24-hour drinking. Sooner or later.