The head-scratching ban on alcohol sales from 2-5 p.m. will end July 1 – but only in hotels and as-yet-undefined “tourist spots”.
Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn – who has pushed for the end to the decades-long afternoon dry hours – initially will be limited to hotels that cater to tourists. Restaurants and tourist attractions may also sell alcohol during the extended period, at the provincial governor’s discretion, he said.
“This change is aimed at lifting up tourism,” Pipat said. “Imagine if some tourists are relaxing in their hotel, and they are suddenly notified that the alcohol is not allowed anymore from 2-5 p.m. That surely ruins the country’s reputation.”
Don’t expect to see 7-Eleven removing the paper over its beer coolers or Lotus’s dropping the rope barrier to the booze aisle, though.
In March, the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association called for the ban to be lifted, saying it generate up to 10 billion baht in revenue.
The afternoon booze ban was enacted in 1972, supposedly to curb underage drinking, enhance worker productivity and prevent drunk driving. Pipat and others called the ban “outdated” and ineffective, noting that people used to the senseless curb for 50 years, simply buy their beers before 2 p.m.