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Many in the food world were aghast when news broke earlier this week that authorities in Bangkok were planning to remove street food vendors from the pavements of the city.
Thailand is widely considered to be one of the best street food destinations in the world and as major news outlets around the world reported on the story there was an an outpouring of dismay on social media.
Wanlop Suwandee, the chief adviser to Bangkok's governor was quoted as the saying that the city was “working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians,” with particular attention being paid to the “illegal vendors” of Yaowarat and Khao San Road.
Suwandee has since claimed however that he was misquoted in the original story, which appeared in English language daily The Nation, telling CNN 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 organising traffic around the areas." Vendors will be more tightly regulated, and only permitted to trade at and from certain times and pitches, while mobile carts and those trading on private land will not be affected.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangku said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that “Thailand is moving forward to be a gastronomy tourism hub from street food to international cuisine,” before listing a number of measures that were under consideration to address safety concerns, such as stricter hygiene regulations and compulsory training for unskilled vendors.
Y&S Food contacted us on Facebook when we broke the original story, telling us: “We live here in Bangkok, there is no general ban. Just a regulation that will move 'illegal stalls' from pedestrian passages. Note, street-food culture should be based on quality not quantity, and with respect of 2017 hygiene needs.”
According to the Bangkok Post vendors have already been removed from over 400 locations, but a total ban on street vendors, whether or not that was the original intention, seems unlikely at the moment.