Companies in Bangkok’s tourist hotspot are eagerly awaiting the return of visitors
BANGKOK, Nov. 2 (Reuters) – Bangkok’s once bustling Khaosan Road has been a shadow of its own since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, but business owners are hoping Thailand’s reopening to tourism will pick up again soon this week .
However, the first signs are that they may have to wait a little longer.
Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, has imposed strict entry restrictions for the past 18 months, but allowed vaccinated travelers from more than 60 countries to visit without quarantine as of Monday. Continue reading
“Khaosan Road is Bangkok’s landmark for foreign visitors. For all of us business owners, they are our hope,” Thapanee Pansodsaicharoenkit, owner of the restaurant “Rocco”, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Before the pandemic, Khaosan Road was packed with people on weekends and nights with cheap beer bars, tattoo parlors, street vendors, hostels, and a vibrant nightlife that drew budget travelers and tour groups alike.
When Reuters visited on Tuesday night, some people were visiting the restaurants and bars, but the street remained quiet as around 90% of the shops were closed indefinitely.
“Yes, we sat and waited for (foreign) visitors,” said Walaiporn Roemthong, 38-year-old waitress, who has been working along the popular street for eight years. “It’s not like before where we didn’t have to wait for them, they just came and took their places.”
Business along Khaosan Road has been on hold for the past 18 months, Khaosan Business Association president Prasit Singhdamrong told Reuters by phone, with only 10% of businesses remaining open.
Despite the easing this week, some restrictions remain.
Restaurants certified by the tourism authorities can serve alcohol until 9 p.m., but bars will remain closed, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority said in a statement on Saturday.
That means many will still have problems, Prasit said, because some only make 1-5% of their sales from food and make the majority of their sales from selling alcohol.
“Khaosan is not a place people come to eat because we are not Michelin-starred restaurants,” said Prasit.
For some, however, there is still hope.
“I think it won’t be long before tourists fill the street again unless there is another outbreak,” said 36-year-old Papot Meecharoen as he waited for customers at his barber shop.
Reporting by Vorasit Satienlerk and Juarawee Kittisilpa; Editing by Alex Richardson
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