Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said he would propose the extension despite strong criticism from some sections of society.
Currently, pubs and bars must close by 2am.
Phiphat said he will not propose that all pubs and bars nationwide be allowed to remain open until 4am: it’s only those in major tourism provinces, he made it clear.
The minister said his proposal was in line with foreign tourist lifestyles, especially those from Europe and the Middle East.
Tourists from these two regions often have dinner from 10pm. The meals take time to arrive and they start drinking only after midnight, he pointed out.
“When they are about to reach the peak of the good time, it would be about time for pubs to close, and the tourists want to drink more. So, the 2am closing does not respond to their needs,” Phiphat said.
The tourism minister noted that entertainment places in foreign countries also close after 2am.
“For example, when Thais make foreign trips, they also want to have a good time to the fullest extent,” Phiphat said.
“So, the public should not be worried about this. And I would like to tell everybody and every agency concerned and NGOs, which are opposed to the idea, that although pubs and bars close at 2am, tourists will still buy alcohol and continue drinking elsewhere anyway.”
He said some might continue drinking in areas that would be hard to monitor and this could lead to crimes.
“If the zoning is set for a 4am closing, I’m confident the government can guarantee the safety of tourists by up to 80 per cent,” he believed.
Phiphat has been one of the rare politicians to dare to openly support what is seen as a “social vice”. Supporters have been stigmatised because they’ve been seen as going against the morality of Thailand’s “Buddhism society”, with their proposals always being shot down by those claiming to be devout Buddhists.