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Tourism sector backs proposal to extend nightlife opening hours, ditch outdoor masks

Businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors have voiced support for a proposal to extend the opening hours of nightlife venues to 2.00am, as well as ditching the outdoor mask mandate. The proposals, from newly-elected Bangkok governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, are aimed at reviving international tourism and persuading more workers to return to the hospitality sector.

Chadchart says the mandate on wearing masks in outdoor spaces should be removed as Bangkok’s infection rate continues to fall. According to a Bangkok Post report, the governor is expected to submit his proposals for the approval of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The president of the Thai Hotels Association agrees with the proposals. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says that allowing nightlife to remain open until 2.00am will boost the economy, pointing out that many other countries have already ended Covid-19 restrictions. She goes on to say that the hotel employment rate has increased to 68% of 2019 levels, but 54% of hoteliers who responded to a THA and Bank of Thailand poll last month say they’re struggling with a shortage of workers.

It’s understood many experienced employees have left the hospitality sector permanently as a result of the pandemic. Around 43% of hotels say they’ve hired more temporary workers at the same salary rate, while 21% had to freeze both jobs and salaries, and 18% increased salaries in order to attract new employees.

“Some hotel workers want to go back once businesses significantly rebound, which could be around the final quarter. The labour shortage might be solved by then.”

Marisa says extending the opening hours of bars and other entertainment venues, as well as dropping the outdoor mask mandate will help revive tourist sentiment. However, she says the hospitality industry still wants the Thailand Pass to be ditched. 

The president of the Tourism Council of Thailand also backs the latest proposals. Chamnan Srisawat says it’s now vital for tourism to be allowed to return to normal, so that businesses can start making money again, thereby improving employee confidence that hospitality jobs are safe. He adds that any extension to nightlife hours and the cancellation of mask mandates should apply nationwide, not just Bangkok. This will show foreign tourists that the entire country is ready to welcome them back.

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