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Thai Hotels Association Protest Alcoholic Beverage Ban

By Chadamas Chinmaneevong, Bangkok Post, ThailandMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 8, 2009--The Thai Hotels Association (THA) wants the government to allow liquor and alcoholic beverage sales in hotels during long holidays to keep business afloat during the economic downturn.

The hoteliers acknowledge this may upset religious and anti-alcohol groups that want to permanently ban alcohol consumption over long holidays.

Prakit Chinamourphong, the THA president, said that while the proposal would not directly increase tourist arrivals, it would encourage many to come back to visit Thailand again.

"For example, foreigners particularly Europeans and Americans, normally drink wine or liquor during their meals. It is their culture. They know how to drink and won't get drunk like many Thais. The government should consider this issue," said Mr Prakit.

Many hotels, especially in cities, have been relying mostly on their food and beverage businesses because their room occupancy rates have fallen sharply since political tensions escalated late last year.

The THA reported the average hotel occupancy nationwide had declined to 50 percent for the year to date, compared to 69-70 percent in the same period of last year.

"We must accept that the government may not approve our proposal because we understand that some people will rally against it," he said. "But we hope the government will put information on the tourism calendar year about what holidays have bans on alcohol sales to inform tourists."

In the past, Mr Prakit said many THA members found several foreigners were unhappy when hotels declined to serve alcoholic beverages on some Buddhist holidays and before election days.

"They didn't understand the reason and said tourism operators and the government should have provided this information. Had they known, they would have gone elsewhere," he said.

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Copyright (c) 2009, Bangkok Post, Thailand

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