Earlier this week food lovers from all around the world were outraged by the news that Bangkok was planning to ban street vendors in all 50 districts of Bangkok. All this despite being crowed CNN's 'city with the best street food' two year running! The given reason: to clean up the streets and city. However, only days after the initial announcement, it seems that officials are back peddling fast and causing widespread confusion and anger. From conflicting policy statements, claims of misquoting, and even a festival celebrating the very thing that was banned...buckle up for a confusing ride!

Wanlop Suwandee's (chief adviser to Bangkok's governor) announcement that all street vendors would have to move off the streets of Bangkok by the end of 2017 was met with widespread dismay and anger from both domestic and international lovers of Thailand's street food culture. 

Following the outcry, Wanlop claimed that he had been misquoted stating in a CNN interview that,

"The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is not banning street food in Khao San and Yaowarat roads, it's the opposite, it is supporting street food by implementing hygienic measures and organizing traffic around the areas."

If you are confused about what's really going to happen with Bangkok's street food...you're not the only one. Just days after the BMA's street vendor ban announcement was made, the BMA and the Tourism Authority of Thailand announced that they want to hold a street food festival in June. 

Escalating the confusion, a rather ambiguous statement was published by the state-run National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) calming that street food will be "continually promoted" in the Thai capital and a "partial reprieve" for food vendors was given to those on Yoawarat and Khao San Road. 

While many critics claim that the ban will prove detrimental to Bangkok's tourist appeal, authorities claim that the ban is aimed at improving food hygiene and follows complaints made by Bangkok residents. 

In regards to the street food festival, the NNT has stated that while the number of participating streets and vendors has yet to be determined, they will include "major tourist streets in Bangkok." 

Although it seems city officials are doing their best to make everyone happy, few concrete details have been provided regarding the specifics of the ban or how the festival will coexist with the tightening regulations.

While it is still unclear how the government intends to implement the ban, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, (Thailand's minister of tourism and sports) has gone on record stating stating that they were "striving for the sustainability of this significant feature of tourist attraction," and that the governor of Bangkok has instructed "all related departments" were to discuss feasible solutions with the Metropolitan Police Bureau and its Traffic Division. 

Some feasible solutions currently under consideration include: 

- The strict observance of hygiene standards by vendors.

- Mandatory training programs for all personnel dealing with street food.

- A mandatory test which vendors must pass with special attention paid to dish cleaning and waste management.

What do you think of Bangkok's attempt to clean up their streets? Are you confused by what's going on? Let us know your thoughts below! 

Sources (1)(2)(3)(4)


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