The government is considering the possibility of scrapping the ban on alcohol sales in the afternoon as part of its tourism promotion policy. The Public Health Minister, Cholnan Srikaew, will ask the government’s alcoholic beverage control committee to discuss a petition by the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association (Tabba) to remove the rule prohibiting the sale of alcohol between 2pm and 5pm.
Although the afternoon ban is not officially part of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, it was implemented in 1972 through an announcement by the coup-installed government. Dr. Cholnan, as the chair of the committee, plans to bring up the discussion and evaluate whether removing the ban aligns with the government’s tourism promotion policy.
A decision is expected to be reached at the next committee meeting on February 15th. However, if Tabba’s proposal is approved, stricter measures will need to be implemented to protect the public, particularly minors, from any potential dangers associated with lifting the ban.
If the alcoholic beverage control panel approves Tabba’s call, the decision will be forwarded to the national alcoholic beverage policy committee for final endorsement. Typically, the national committee is chaired by the prime minister or a deputy. If the cancellation plan is endorsed, the Ministry of Health will publish a new announcement allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages between 2pm and 5pm.
The cancellation of the ban may be expedited so that the new rules can take effect by early April, coinciding with the annual Songkran festival, according to a source.
Tabba has also urged the government to strengthen enforcement of legal measures designed to prevent alcohol-related road accidents and illegal alcohol sales to individuals under 20 years old.
The tourism industry, particularly in Bangkok, Phuket, and Chon Buri, could benefit from the relaxation of alcohol controls. The cancellation would align with the government’s efforts to promote tourism and attract visitors, including those from China.
Tabba has already submitted a petition to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin, and Public Health Minister Cholnan, requesting the lifting of the afternoon alcohol sale ban. The association believes that regulations hindering tourism or unnecessary rules should be adjusted to align with the government’s tourism promotion efforts.
It is worth noting that the Thai-Chinese visa-free scheme, set to be implemented on March 1st, has further increased the interest of Chinese tourists in visiting Thailand. The relaxation of alcohol controls is expected to boost income generated from tourism-related activities.
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