United front helped end Pattaya booze ban

Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome met with business leaders and heads of business organization to explore ways of solving the non-alcohol sales conundrum. Finally the ban was lifted Friday evening.

Chonburi late Friday finally approved the sale of alcohol in restaurants, but before that happened, much pressure was brought to bear on government.

It’s unclear how much a factor all the letters, petitions, protests and public statements had on the government’s Dec. 3 decision. After all, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had said on television in October that alcohol in restaurants would not be even considered until December. From that perspective, business leaders only had to wait three days.

But the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration undermined the prime minister’s message by allowing booze sales to return in Bangkok and three other “tourism pilot zones” Nov. 1. The idea of a uniform December end to prohibition was eroded further as provinces around Bangkok, Cha-am and other municipalities got the OK to turn the beer taps back on.

From that view, Pattaya was being penalized unfairly.

Before the good news came Friday, Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome met with Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Boonanan Pattanasin, Damrongkiat Pinitkarn, secretary for the Entertainment & Tourism Association of Pattaya City, Naris Petchrat, president of Walking Street Entrepreneur Association and other business leaders to again press for the end of the booze ban.

PBTA President Boonanan Pattanasin, Damrongkiat Pinitkarn, secretary of Pattaya ETA and Naris Petchrat, president of Walking Street Entrepreneur Association together with other business leaders met the mayor to try to work things out.

Hundreds of industry workers, leaders and operators then assembled Friday afternoon on Walking Street in the biggest, loudest protest yet.

Boonanan said it was incomprehensible how Banglamung Distirct, which includes Pattaya, was designated a “blue” tourism zone like Bangkok and 15 other areas, but still was being deprived alcohol sales, a major portion of most restaurants’ profits.

Even with the booze ban lifted, business owners want more. They petitioned the mayor for continued relief of the sign tax, business income tax, building tax and social security contributions.

Some of those items are outside the mayor’s purview, but they urged him to be the industry’s advocate with the central government. They also asked for city help in mediating rent disputes.