BANGKOK — While most bars and restaurants around backpacker destination Khaosan Road have reopened one week after His Majesty the Late King died, its usual loud scene has gone quiet as the supply of tourists has dried up.
Numbers of Thai and foreign guests have dropped up to 70 percent since one week ago, hotel bookings have fallen and some foreign travelers have checked out earlier than planned, Sa-nga Ruangwattanakul of the local business association said Thursday. He estimates the potential losses at over 100 million baht.
“When many venues were closed [after the King’s death], profits declined and tourists changed their destinations to somewhere else,” said Sa-nga of the Khaosan Road Business Association.
Over at Golf Bar, the kind of venues that sells alcohol by the bucket, the booze was ready to serve but no music could be played.
Staff there said they have had fewer customers than ever before. The two-shop venue was pretty much deserted Wednesday evening, with only one table seated with foreign customers drinking inside. Outside, a dozen staff members plaintively waved menus in search of customers.
“We’ve been operating in the red every day,” manager Boonpatcharee Sangthongweerakul said.
She said tourists were understanding of the unprecedented situation.
“Some farang tourist asked me why we don’t turn on the music,” said Boonpatcharee, who is the bar owner’s daughter-in-law. “I explained to him that our King passed away. He immediately said, ‘Sorry.’”
The quiet on Khaosan was welcome to traveling Greek couple. Georgios Georgoulis and Dimitra Lioliou said they enjoyed the vibe as it is now.
“I like to wander around and see people, but I don’t like to see drunk people,” Georgoulis said.
Coming near the end of the year and tourism high season, the downturn could cut into what would otherwise be a profitable time.
Halloween, Loi Krathong and New Year’s Eve, usually busy party nights, would likely have to be canceled, according to Sa-nga of the business association. He estimates the loss of about 50 million baht per event canceled.
“When it was a flood or political protests near the area, the bars and restaurants remained open, unlike now,” he said.