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Bars in Patong's Soi Bangla walking street have been hit by the coup curfew

UPDATE Midnight Curfew Choking Patong Nightlife: Governor Heads Out on the Town

Monday, June 2, 2014
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

Phuket Governor Maitree intrusud decided to head to Patong on Monday night to head off a rally by Patong businesspeople tomorrow to express their desire to have the midnight to 4am curfew lifted. Whether there's much he can do without a nod from the coup commander remains to be seen.

Original Report

PHUKET: Patong nightlife business leaders will be meeting Phuket Governor Maitree Intrusud tomorrow to seek the lifting of the midnight curfew which they say is strangling their low-season flow of tourists and income.

''Phuket has no serious crime and it's hundreds of kilometres from Bangkok, where all the problems have been,'' said the President of the Entertainment Association of Patong, Weerawit Kuresombut. He claimed the earlier 10pm curfew was ''worse than a tsunami.''

''People don't understand that there are direct flights to Phuket and it is quite different to Bangkok,'' he said. ''This applies especially to first-time travellers, who are being scared off for no good reason.''

There are conflicting reports about the level of damage being done to tourism in Thailand since the coup began on May 22.

According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), there were 5000 cancellations the next day, May 23.

A total of 62 nations have issued travel alerts and 19 of those are categorised as ''do not travel'' warnings. The problem for Phuket is that the midnight to 4am curfew is imposed for all of Thailand - just as the travel alerts are mostly imposed for all of Thailand.

Although flights to Thailand are said to have remained at steady numbers, it's likely that the numbers of passengers on some flights have fallen. May and June, though, are generally regarded as the low point of Phuket's tourist year anyway.

The effect is likely to be felt much more severely in Bangkok, where hotels and tourism generally is already suffering from six months of street protests that only ended with the military's intervention.

''Some people have panicked because of the way the military takeover has been portrayed,'' Khun Weerawit said. ''If you haven't been to Phuket before, it's hard to understand that it's very different to Bangkok.''

In a letter to Patong businesspeople, Khun Weerawit has asked for five staff from each pub, bar, nightclub or restaurant to turn out tomorrow when the association's leaders meet with Governor Maitree at Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City.

However, the suggestion may be in contravention of an edict from the National Council for Peace and Order banning gatherings of five people or more.

All complaints to the coup command have to be directed through the provincial governors, who are under orders to inform the junta about all developments.

The midnight curfew is unlikely to be continued much longer in Phuket and other tourist areas because coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has already said he wants to resurrect tourism as soon as possible.

Patong bar owners sometimes stay open after 2am and have always claimed it's difficult to make a profit because tourists are used to dining late and staying out late.

Comments

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Only a few bars in Soi Bangla are closing down at midnight. Most stay open until 1 or 2 AM. Just went there with friends last Friday and nobody was kicking anybody out at midnight.

Posted by Jakub P. on June 2, 2014 09:23

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Khun Weerawit needs to understand that the current situation is about treating EVERYONE in Thailand the same, as opposed to what happened in the past. Having to close 2 hours early (in theory) shouldn't prove a hardship for honest businesses - in time people will adjust and go out early.

The people who are really feeling the pinch are those working outside the official closing times (and have done for years) and its about time they were brought to heel, along with all the corrupt payments involved.

Posted by Mister Ree on June 2, 2014 09:55

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By experience when we got a coup-d'etat in Thailand, it is a 6-8 month period before tourists come back on holiday in Thailand; so you may not expect to get tourists back to Thailand not
before January-February 2015, excepted if protesters demonstrate all along coming months against military power.
Also without travel insurance for most of foreign tourists, many will postpone or divert their vacation to other similar destinations especially those quality tourists who spent a lot of money while vacationing.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 2, 2014 10:13

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The importance of addressing Thailand's problems have a far higher greater priority than lifting the curfew of an isolated area such as Phuket.

Whilst I acknowledge that the Island 'is' solely reliant on tourism, the need to overcome mistakes of the past surely must precede, and not to assume it's business as usual, especially in a climate of uncertainty.

The overriding reality is that in order to eradicate the cancer of corruption, that sometimes you must make uncomfortable sacrifices for the greater good.

I hope that the General will be swift in his attempt to eradicate the disease of greed and corruption, that has so evidently overcome the country.

The tide of change has indeed reached our shores, that Thailand is obliged to rise to the challenges it now faces.

Posted by reader on June 2, 2014 11:51

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What a great opportunity for Patong to reinvent itself & become part of Phuket, part of Thailand again! Remove some of the sleeze & corruption, clean up its act a bit & become a family destination, as it often 'threatens' to do.

Posted by Logic on June 2, 2014 14:00


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