PM’s Commitment to Restrict Cannabis Usage
Tourism operators have expressed their support for the prime minister’s promise to eradicate recreational cannabis usage within six months. They believe that the unregulated cannabis shops have caused more harm to tourism in the past year. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated in an interview with Bloomberg that the government plans to rectify the cannabis policy within six months to ensure its use is limited to medical purposes. He also mentioned his personal disagreement with the recreational use of the plant.
The Impact on Tourism and Hotels
According to Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, group executive director of Sunshine Hotels and Resorts in Pattaya, the ease of finding a cannabis shop every 200-300 meters along the streets of Pattaya has led to 90% of them not being for medical purposes. The relaxed regulations and weak enforcement have caused more problems for tourism than generating economic benefits. Instances of hotel guests overusing cannabis and having to be hospitalized due to comatose states are becoming more common.
Tourists from countries that prohibit consuming and importing cannabis products also face issues. Many of them are unaware that some products bought in Thailand contain cannabis, such as food and drinks. Thanet believes that if cannabis is to be used for medical purposes, law enforcement should be stricter to ensure safe medical treatment.
Hoteliers’ Stance on Cannabis
Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, observed that several cannabis shops have opened on every street in Phuket following the plant’s removal from the narcotics list. Most hotels have had to ban smoking weed in their rooms as it disturbs other guests, especially families with children. Hoteliers are in agreement with the government’s intent to limit cannabis usage to medical purposes only.
The private sector in the provinces has previously discussed the impact of unregulated businesses on tourism and proposed zoning cannabis usage for recreational purposes to prevent uncontrolled expansion. However, if the government decides to close all cannabis shops, the tourism sector in Phuket is expected to remain unaffected, as it is already on track to recover to 2019 levels without the need for cannabis liberalization.
European Guests and Future Bookings
Suksit shared that European guests have recovered by 80%, with forward bookings in the upcoming high season reaching 40-50%. He believes that the closure of cannabis shops would not affect the tourism business, as Phuket has experienced steady growth even before cannabis liberalization.
The Importance of Stricter Regulations
As the tourism sector and hoteliers show their support for limiting cannabis use to medical purposes, the government’s commitment to stricter regulations and enforcement is crucial. Ensuring safe and controlled use of cannabis will benefit both tourists and the overall tourism industry in Thailand.