Govt reopens entertainment venues to woo back tourists

Back in business: A file photo of customers outside a bar on Khaosan Road in Bangkok. — Bloomberg

The country will allow bars, pubs and karaoke clubs to reopen in some regions from next month, ending a more than a year-long shutdown, as the tourism-reliant nation targets more travellers to bolster an economic recovery amid an easing Covid-19 outbreak.

Popular tourist destinations including Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chonburi are among 31 provinces classified as green and blue zones where pubs, bars and karaoke lounges can serve alcohol to patrons until midnight from June 1, Rachada Dhnadirek, a government spokesperson, said on Twitter yesterday after a meeting of the nation’s virus task force chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The gradual reopening of nightlife entertainment venues marks an end of some of the toughest pandemic-era restrictions and is seen as key to luring more foreign tourists in the June-September period, considered a low season for Thai tourism.

The country has seen its Omicron-fuelled Covid-19 wave ease in recent days with new daily cases averaging about 5,000 from a peak of almost 30,000 in early April.

“Improving Covid-19 infections and further easing demonstrate the government’s attempt to quickly bring back economic activities,” said Koraphat Vorachet, an analyst at Capital Nomura Securities Pcl.

“What people are closely watching for is the quick recovery of overseas tourists and domestic spending to spur the economy,” he said.

Thailand expects tourist arrivals to more than triple to about one million a month from October as the nation rolls back most border controls.

While the country has scrapped mandatory testing and quarantine for vaccinated tourists, pre-arrival registration and insurance requirements are seen as deterrents with other tourism-reliant nations doing away with such restrictions. — Bloomberg

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