Street food can stay, but only where it makes tourists happy.
Street food lovers in Thailand and around the world were sent into panic yesterday after news surfaced about the BMA's plans to make street-food havens Yaowarat and Khao San roads the next targets for their road clearance plans.
The scheme, which aims to rid Bangkok of street-food stalls by the end of the year, has already taken effect in hubs including Thonglor and Sukhumvit Soi 38.
On top of a front page headline by The Nation, the news was also picked up by foreign media, including The Guardian, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveler and more, much to the disappointment of both Thais and foreigners.
However, in an interview with Voice TV this morning, Chairman of Advisers to Governor of Bangkok Vallop Suwandee refuted the circulating news, stating:
"It is very far from the truth. In fact, it is the opposite. Khao San and Yaowarat roads are two main centers of tourism in Bangkok. Therefore, the BMA is making plans to help preserve this Thainess for foreigners. We are simply putting stricter regulations to keep these areas in order, ranging from the hygiene of the food served to the prevention of food waste thrown into the streets. We are not stopping the stalls from selling their food, but are just regulating the quality and order."
When asked about the fate of future street food areas around Bangkok, Vallop explained that areas including Victory Monument, Siam Square and parts of Sukhumvit are likely to be cleared. Khao San and Yaowarat roads, however, are prime hubs for tourists and thus the BMA are keeping them as the only two exceptions.
"These people are using the public space for their personal use," says Vallop. "It is the BMA's mission to bring the space back for the greater good, which will help improve the city's cleanliness and prevent road conjestion".
So, the BMA's message is clear: street food to stay, but only where it'll keep tourists happy.