First of all, Bangkok, the world’s street-food capital, announced that it was banning street food.
Now it has emerged that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand want to hold a street-food festival in June.
Even more confusingly, a statement published by the state-run National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) says that street food will be “continually promoted” in the Thai capital.
The announcement of the festival comes just days after the BMA reiterated its resolve to clear street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok.
It also comes at the same time as the granting of a partial reprieve for food vendors that occupy spots on Yoawarat — the main thoroughfare through Chinatown — and on backpacker haunt Khao San Road.
Authorities say the ban is aimed at improving food hygiene and follows complaints by residents that vendors are obstructing sidewalks. However, critics assert the crackdown is part of a series of measures by Thailand’s ruling junta enforcing public order and is detrimental to Bangkok’s tourist appeal.
“If you want to clean out all the vendors it’s like you are cleaning out our culture itself,” Chiwan Suwannapak, who works for a Bangkok tour agency, told Agence France-Presse.
As for the street-food festival, the NNT says the number of participating streets and vendors has yet to be determined but that they will include “major tourist streets in Bangkok.” Few details have been offered on how the festival coexist with the ban.