SUNBIZ

Nightclubs Want Longer Hours

Operators of bars, nightclubs and taverns, are hopeful of positive results from its call for extended opening hours. They want bars, clubs and taverns to operate until 5am. In the
14 Aug 2022 12:17
Nightclubs Want Longer Hours
The staff at TJs Nadi.

Operators of bars, nightclubs and taverns, are hopeful of positive results from its call for extended opening hours.

They want bars, clubs and taverns to operate until 5am.

In the jetset town of Nadi, six oper­ators maintain that extending open­ing hours would significantly aid in the recovery of their businesses.

Among a host of reasons behind the call, is the apparent impact on tourism, rise in black market ac­tivity, and loss of revenue to black market activity.

Operators have backed the plea with the need to generate better wages for staff.

TJ’s Bistro, Ice Bar, The Hive and Whitehouse are just some of the frequented night spots in Nadi’s jet­set town.

“Tourists are complaining about the 1am closing time for bars & tav­erns,” TJ’s owner, Thomas Johans­en, said.

“Hotels and airlines are now open for business, and enjoy full capacity bookings until the end of the year,” TJ’s said.

However, bars and taverns are still subjected to the COVID-19 Public Health Act, which means all bars and taverns must close by 1am.

 

SunBiz sought comments from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Tourism over a course of two con­secutive days.

According to Mr Johansen, tour­ists reported dissatisfaction with the shortened operating hours.

“We are likely to lose tourism earnings to Bali,” he said.

“The number one complaint that bars and taverns in Nadi receive are from tourist who bemoan hav­ing to end their patronage at 1am and return to their hotels.

“After two years of no travel and holidays, tourists come for holi­days, and want the freedom to enjoy their holidays without having to cut short their fun at 1am.”

Operators generate healthy sales twice a week.

The two particular days are dur­ing weekends.

In a month, that is a total of eight days.

This, against the trend where pa­trons go out after 10pm, calls for some attention, in the interest of saving these businesses that have already suffered immensely over the last 2.5 years.

“With bars closing at 1am, that is only three hours of peak sales, or six hours of peak sales a week,” Mr Johansen said.

“Considering the overheads in­volved in running a business, that isn’t enough.

Operators are barely breaking even to meet the reinstatement of pre-COVID-19 commercial rent, and rise in cost of utilities, he said.

“Bar owners are finding it difficult to make any profit at all,” Mr Jo­hansen said.

“You can only imagine how much harder it is for the good staff who work hard for the few hours they put in.”

 

Staff

The limited trading hours debili­tates staff capacity to a few hours of roster work.

“It also limits their ability to earn more money for the good work they are capable of,” Mr Johansen said.

Black-market and nuisance

Bootlegging has risen as a result of the 1am closing time that bars, taverns and nightclubs must follow, Mr Johansen said.

“Patrons still have the desire to carry on drinking and partying past 1am,” he said.

“With bars closing earlier than 3am, patrons resort to public parks and beaches to continue drinking, where they are considered a gen­eral nuisance to residents of the vicinity.

“There has been an increase in public disturbances at Wailoaloa beach, which is becoming an area for drinking parties.”

 

Whitehouse, Ice Bar

Inje Martin Jeong manages White­house nightclub in Martintar.

He received some concern over the collection of empty beer bottles.

“Bottle collectors have an issue, as more are drinking out in public places – on the roadside and beach­es,” Mr Jeong said.

On a busy weekend night, White­house gathers an average of 800 pa­trons, he said.

“It’s even busier when there is a sports tournament in Nadi.

Ice Bar operator, Ron Gounder, said the streets of Martintar would be strewn with empty alcohol cans and bottles, on weekends.

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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