The government should scrap the ban on alcohol sales from 2pm to 5pm to support the tourism recovery, says Atavit Suwannapakdee, secretary-general of the Kla Party.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which limits the hours when alcoholic beverages can be sold, needs to be revised as it remains an obstacle to tourism operators who have already been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Atavit said on Saturday after attending a meeting of the Asia Pacific International Spirits and Wines Alliance (APISWA).
No other countries in Southeast Asia have laws restricting the hours of alcohol sales, he said.
“Thailand used to attract 40 million tourists a year, generating 3 trillion baht in revenue, but there has been a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol from 2pm to 5pm since 1972 for the outdated reason that drunk civil servants will not work productively,” said Mr Atavit.
Now that the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has proposed allowing night entertainment venues to operate until 2am, starting July 1, the law governing alcohol sales needs to be revised to be in line with the current situation, he added.
The Kla Party, led by former finance minister and longtime Democrat heavyweight Korn Chatikavanij, has been raising its profile in recent weeks, with members proposing various reforms, including legalising gambling to spur the economy.
Provisions that prohibit authorised sellers from selling alcoholic beverages between 2pm and 5pm will not stop people from buying alcohol, said Thanakorn Kuptajit, a former chairman of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association.
“Instead, the authorities should seriously enforce the law that prohibits selling alcoholic beverages to customers aged below 20 and revise the zoning requirement to sell alcoholic beverages, because this is no longer appropriate to the current situation,” Mr Thanakorn said.