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Pattaya tourism quiet until entry and booze rules are eased

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Crowds aren't likely in Pattaya without the infamous nightlife. (via Lin Kiu on Unsplash)

According to the acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, Pattaya is still quiet, and 95% of tourists there are Thai since the reopening to international tourists on November 1. Of the 200 to 300 people per day who do come, the majority are not tourists but businesspeople and expats. And many of the tourists who do come end up leaving quickly when they discover that everything is closed and that there is no entertainment or nightlife allowed.

The president estimates that, of the 1,000 to 2,000 international tourists the Tourism Authority of Thailand says enter Thailand each day, about 10% of travellers make a stop in Pattaya. The city is seeing what averages to about 6,000 to 7,000 visitors per month – a far cry from the pre-pandemic days when during the busy season from November to March, an average of 1 million people would visit Pattaya per month.

He says that the turnover rate is much faster now than it was earlier in the pandemic offsetting the increase in the number of bookings. People are booking one night and leaving afterwards whereas, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a single booking would often stay 10 nights to 2 weeks.

A deeper dive into the people booking reveals the reason for so many short stays: the majority of international arrivals coming into Thailand are expats coming home. They arrive and take their RT-PCR test and check into the required hotel while awaiting their results. As soon at the test is returned negative, they head straight to their homes or condos or apartments.

The Tourism Council leader sees the lack of tourists in Pattaya as a direct result of the complicated hoops people have to pass through to arrive in Thailand, discouraging potential tourists. Other holiday countries require vaccination and a negative test before boarding a flight and… that’s it! No complicated document submission processes or quarantine or required hotel bookings. He suggested at least switching to antigen test kits that are exponentially cheaper and much faster so that arriving travellers can start their holiday right away.

But the other thing that has massively disenfranchised international travellers is the draconian restrictions on drinking and entertainment venues. The unnecessary confusion of opening 17 tourism Sandbox destinations but then allowing alcohol in only 4 of them just angers travellers and spreads negative reputations online for potential travellers.

Even when not catering to the wild partying demographic, a large percentage of foreigners want to have a drink with their meals and denying them that is enough to dissuade potential tourists from booking tickets. But speaking of the partiers, while it’s not everyone’s interest, the draw of nightlife and entertainment to Thailand and especially Pattaya is undeniable. And even for those who aren’t going clubbing, nightlife brings more tourists that allow more local businesses to open and thrive, creating a butterfly effect that benefits all areas of tourism in Pattaya.

The Tourism Council president said he fully supported all the efforts of hundreds of local bar and business owners and 8 major tourism associations that have petitioned the government to reopen nightlife and entertainment venues in Pattaya sooner rather than later. Under then, it looks like the holidays will be very quiet in Pattaya.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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