Pattaya‘s picturesque island of Koh Larn is proving to be a hit with tourists this month, with over 130,000 tourists flocking to the island. Officials expect this number to rise as Chinese tourists start to return to the area.
Pattaya Deputy Mayor Manote Nongyai said on Wednesday, March 15, that Koh Larn saw an average of 10,000 visitors per day in the first two weeks of March. Manote noted that 70% of these tourists were Thai, with the two largest foreign groups being Russians and Indians.
Despite the positive impact on Pattaya’s tourism industry, Deputy Mayor Nongyai said that the island is not yet equipped to handle a large overnight crowd. While many visitors come for day trips, there are not enough accommodations or infrastructure to support a large overnight influx.
Pattaya has been working to improve Koh Larn’s infrastructure, including its roads and piers, in recent years, Pattaya Mail reported. However, the island’s water, electricity, and waste-disposal systems are still inadequate, presenting a challenge as tourism numbers continue to rise.
Despite these challenges, Manote said the rush of tourists to Koh Larn is good for Pattaya’s tourism industry.
Pattaya officials have been promoting tourism in the city to people across the globe. Last week, Pattaya Mayor Poramese Ngampiches visited Berlin to attend the event ‘Discover Thailand, Journey to Happiness.’ The event aimed to attract high-spending German tourists, and other Europeans, to Thailand and Pattaya. During the expo, Poramase acted as a tour guide and led participants to several booths showcasing the highlights of Pattaya.
Thailand welcomed 2.14 million international tourists in January. The top three source markets that month were Malaysia with 288,745 tourists, Russia with 202,759 tourists, and South Korea with 169,462 tourists. However, the return of travellers from China, following the removal of Covid-19 restrictions, helped boost the numbers. A total of 91,841 Chinese tourists flocked to Thailand in January.
Last month, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he expected more than 30 million foreign visitors in 2023.
Tourism is a vital source of employment and a major driver of the economy in Thailand, typically accounting for about 12% of the annual GDP. Before the pandemic hit, Thailand welcomed almost 40 million visitors in 2019, who spent 1.91 trillion baht (US$54.37 billion).
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