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Thailand’s Tourism Ministry Mulls Extending Drinking Hours

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Tourism is one of the country’s key industries, accounting for about 20% of gross domestic product. But sluggish growth in foreign tourism has the government considering an about-face.

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BANGKOK – As tourist number dwindle tourism centers like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket are seeking help for Thailand tourism ministry. The tourism ministry is now considering allowing bars and night clubs stay open later.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is considering extending closing times at nightspots in some areas to 4 a.m. At the moment, such establishments must close by 2 a.m.

By extending closing times, the ministry hopes to encourage tourists to loosen their purse strings.

Tourism centers in Thailand, such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket have sprawling entertainment districts. Billed as among the largest in Asia and they teem with foreign revelers.

One shop owner welcomed the proposal to keep the fun going into the small hours of the night. “If the closing time is extended by two hours, our revenue should increase by 30% to 40%,” he said.

Civil society groups complain that heavy-drinking tourists cause accidents and other problems. However the government estimates that extending closing hours will increase visitors’ daily spending by 25%. Delivering a welcome economic boost to the hard hit tourism sector, Nikkei reports.

Bars and Night Clubs Hit Hard by Low Tourism

Until recently, Thai authorities were more concerned with cleaning the sordid image entertainment districts. Police frequently raided establishments suspected of selling alcohol after hours.

Tourism is one of the country’s key industries, accounting for about 20% of gross domestic product. But sluggish growth in foreign tourism has the government considering an about-face.

The number of international visitors to Thailand rose just 1% on the year in the first half of 2019. Forcing the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to cut its annual target.

The industry has been hit especially hard by a slump in big-spending Chinese visitors. After the Phoenix boat capsized in Phuket last year, killing 41 Chinese. The Tourism sector  has also been affected by the high thai baht. Chinese tourists are heading to Vietnam, Cambodia and Hong Kong where their money goes further.

European tourists number have also plummeted due to the high baht. European Holiday makers are also choosing Vietnam, Cambodia over Thailand.

The Bank of Thailand has lowered it’s prime lending rate to curb the Baht, however the baht continues to strengthen.

This week it was reported that, Thai rice exports are tipped to decline by 35% this year as a consequence of the stronger baht.