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Thailand considers lifting ban on afternoon alcohol sales

5th July 2024

The 52-year-old ban may be lifted in a bid to boost tourism

According to a statement on the Royal Thai Government website, Thailand’s prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, is contemplating lifting the 52-year-old ban on afternoon alcohol sales to help ease the country’s struggling tourism sector.

“PM Srettha is pleased to consider proposals from restaurant operators to change laws that ban sales of alcoholic beverages from 2pm-5pm,” according to the statement.

With the extended heatwave in the earlier part of 2024 sending temperatures soaring to 38 degrees Celsius and higher, such a move would have provided welcome relief to many thirsty tourists in the country, as well as helping bars, hotels and eateries with much needed custom.

Thailand’s Restaurant Business Club submitted a letter to the prime minister on July 2 asking for urgent relief measures to alleviate rising costs and a moribund economy, and recommended an end to the afternoon alcohol sales ban. “We have to look at the overall picture on this,” responded Srettha in the statement. “Costs are rising, but the government is also promoting tourism, which will help boost restaurant operators’ income.”

The three-hour ban on alcohol sales has been in force since 1972 when Thailand became one of the world’s most popular leisure destinations. However, the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s tourism sector has put pressure on the government to adopt more liberal measures to restore it to pre-pandemic visitor numbers.

Two years ago, it became the first country in Asia to decriminalise the use of cannabis, although it plans to tighten regulation next year, reclassifying marijuana as a narcotic, and tightening rules on planting, sales, and exports and imports.

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