Night venues threaten indefinite closure

PHUKET CITY: Entertainment venues throughout Phuket are set to close their doors for an indefinite period on October 26 in protest against the government’s new early-closing policy.

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 1 am, 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.”

Phuket News
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