Monday, October 18, 2004

Phuket: Night venues threaten indefinite closure

Nightspots across Thailand have been forced to close between midnight and 1 am for the last 6 weeks. Nightspot owners in Phuket plans to close their doors for an indefinite period on October 26 in protest against the Government’s new early-closing policy, according to Phuket Gazette.

We quote:
Sompetch Moosophon of Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA) told the Gazette that PEBA members had decided to take the drastic decision to close their businesses at a meeting on Saturday at the Metropole Hotel.

According to the new laws, businesses within entertainment zones must close at 1pm, and businesses outside them at midnight.Business people in Patong have been particularly vociferous in their pleas to be exempted from the regulations, arguing that the tourists who comprise the bulk of their business hardly venture out before midnight, and that they have each lost hundreds of thousands of baht in revenue since the order was enforced.

“About 50 business people attended the meeting,” said K. Sompetch, “and we decided we had to do something to let the authorities know we are in trouble.

“The Governor should realize that we are also citizens under his control, and that he should pay as much attention to us as he does to other people. We’re in serious difficulties right now; why doesn’t he look at this?”

K. Sompetch said he was loath to take drastic action, but he believed the association members had no choice but to close their establishments.

He said, “This high season, Phuket is going to lose the opportunity to earn more money; this policy will look ridiculous to many tourists in Patong.

”K. Sompetch denied that establishments in Patong had many under-age patrons – one of the government’s reasons for the new early-closing laws – and said that he is confident there are no drugs or sex shows in Patong. If there were, he asked, why didn’t the police simply close down the establishments concerned? “That would be much easier.

”K. Sompetch said the association would ask Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura to extend opening hours to 2 am, or even 3 am or 4 am. The 1 am closing policy was, he said, just an attempt by the government to make it look like it was doing something.He added, “There were people who wanted a ‘mob’ protest, but I hope we can find a solution through discussion. We’ve passed all our information to the Governor; he has enough of that now. Everything is up to him now.”
Source: Phuket Gazette, 18-Oct-2004

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Thailand: Earlier closing

Remember the infamous nightlife of Thailand? It is soon becoming a distant part of the past. All nightspots in Phuket has been ordered to close no later than 1 am. Three years ago the Thai interior ministry ordered nightspots to close by 2 am. Now it is down to midnight, and for some 1 am.

Visited Phuket Town on 23-Sep, and at 12:50 the lights went on and we were ordered out. Outside on the streets the men in brown were waiting to check driver licenses, passports, seat belts and asking where we were staying. Not pleasant.

Patong Beach has been divided into different sectors and one "entertainment zone", which includes Soi Bangla, Beach Road and Rat Uthit 200 Pi Road. As a general rule most of the entertainment places within this zone must close by 1 am.

We quote from Phuket Gazette:
Leading businessman Chairat Sukabal, who owns the Safari Pub, told the Gazette that 99% of his customers were not Thai teenagers, but tourists, and they were struggling to come to terms with the new policy. It could also discourage investment in Patong, he said.

“Having to close at 2 am was bad enough. Now our businesses are going to be even worse off.

“We have 24 hours in a day, but if we get revenue for only an hour or two a day, who will come to invest in this area?

“Patong is where the money comes in. How can people earn a living if the closing times are 1 am and midnight? I stand firm against this. This will not support tourism but will make tourists leave.”

The streets may be quieter once the bars had closed, K. Chairat said, but after closing hours he had seen tourists walking along the beach or sitting on the pavement, because there was nowhere for them to go, and nothing for them to do.

Source: Phuket Gazette (23-Sep-04).

Monday, September 20, 2004


The Asia Nightlife Blog from will be launched on October 1, 2004. Please check in with us later.

The asiabynight editorial team.