Thailand’s tourism sector grapples with cannabis legalisation

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

A year after Thailand legalised cannabis by removing the plant from the list of prohibited narcotics, the tourism sector has experienced both positive and negative repercussions. While it was anticipated that medical cannabis tourism would thrive, increasing concerns about the relaxed regulations have led the Tourism Authority of Thailand to reconsider its promotional strategy.

Initially, there was a surge in instances where foreign travellers consumed cannabis products unknowingly, mistaking them for ordinary food items. This prompted Thai embassies and government authorities across countries such as Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, China, and Singapore to issue reminders to their citizens about the risks and consequences of cannabis use while in Thailand. Research from Chulalongkorn University further revealed that the Chinese media has portrayed Thailand negatively as a tourist destination since the legalisation of cannabis use.

Addressing local and international concerns, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn claims that despite the agency’s initial plans to use cannabis as a spearhead for medical tourism, existing tourism products should be enough to strengthen the sector without relying on cannabis. He adds that the TAT will follow the new government’s direction regarding future cannabis promotion.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, acknowledges the benefits of cannabis legalisation to the tourism industry but expresses concerns about the lack of clear regulations. She says hotel operators require more guidance on dealing with cases such as cannabis smoking in hotel rooms and the associated penalties.

Chotechuang Soorangura, vice president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, argues that the government should evaluate the benefits and threats to public safety after a year of legalisation. He suggests adopting clear regulations and zoning designated areas for cannabis use, drawing inspiration from European countries and the US.

As Thailand’s tourism industry grapples with the challenges of cannabis legalisation, industry stakeholders are urging the government to establish clearer regulations and promote better awareness among locals and foreign visitors alike, reports Bangkok Post.


Alex Morgan

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