Thai sommeliers threatened with jail

1st September, 2014 by Lucy Shaw

Thai sommeliers could be sent to jail for recommending wine to consumers after midnight if new draconian laws on alcohol promotion are given the green light.

The Sky Bar at Sirocco

The Sky Bar at Sirocco

As reported by Time, local officials in the Thai city of Chaing Mai met this week with representatives from the hospitality industry to discuss the new measures.

If the legislation were to go ahead, after midnight verbal promotion of alcohol, including a sommelier recommending a wine to a customer, could result in six months in prison.

In addition, post midnight, alcohol and happy hour advertising would be banned, along with glasses and ashtrays sporting drinks brand logos.

“This law was put into effect due to the rapidly growing costs of alcohol to this nation,” second lieutenant Taweesak Jintajiranan told the Chiang Mai City News.

Thai residents have taken to social media to voice their anger at the proposed measures, originally set out in the 2008 Alcohol Control Act, which have thus far never been enforced as they are viewed as unworkable in a country so dependent of tourism.

“It won’t last if they ever do enforce it. Give it a few months and they’ll have to change the stupid law,” a bar owner in Chiang Mai who wished to remain anonymous, told Time.

The tourism industry is worth up to US$60 billion annually, with Thailand welcoming over 20 million foreign visitors each year.

“I don’t think we’ll see an immediate effect on tourism because Thailand’s reputation for vibrant nightlife continues, whatever the reality is,” Joe Cummings, author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Thailand told Time, adding, “Thais are among the most clever people in Asia when it comes to finding legal loopholes.”

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