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Thailand’s tourism – stormy weather ahead

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Thailands tourism industry finds itself in stormy weather as a falloff in visitors spook trade, even forcing candid admissions from some of Thailand’s tourism chiefs.

Thailand has suffered a slump in tourism figures since the beginning of the year as hoteliers and tourism trade leaders have confirmed a huge 20 to 30% drop for June in tourist numbers and trade in Pattaya and Phuket this week in separate media interviews.

The slump is a startling and quite sudden drop, just seven months after the end of a record tourist year in 2018 and a good start with Christmas, New Year and January numbers. In December of 2018, the number of Chinese visors arriving in Thailand was over 838,000, a nearly 3% increase year-on-year at the time. A third of tourist arrivals into Thailand in 2018 were mainland Chinese.

But a perfect storm has now beset Thai tourism – emerging nearby tourist markets, a high baht, the US-China trade wars and ongoing fallout from the Phuket Boat Tragedy.

Locally there are other issues such as over-development of accommodation causing too much new competition, poor infrastructure and systemic tourist turn-offs never being addressed (Phuket taxi prices is one example).

All this is now broadly accepted, even officially. Figures for tourist arrivals show a slump following January this year. In April and May 2019 the figures for monthly arrivals dropped to 3,195,006 and 2,726,808. These arrival numbers were a big drop from, say, December last year.

The TAT governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, recently spoke to a meeting in Thailand’s north-eastern city of Udon Thani. He outlined plans by tourism chiefs to develop niche markets for Thai tourism for secondary locations in the country targeting affluent tourists seeking lifestyle and wellness experiences, including LGBT travellers. He predicted that tourist revenues for 2020 would reach 3.7 billion baht with a 10% growth. The authority is, officially, still holding out hope that 2019 can rebound.

The optimism is based on hopes and prayers rather than any of the ‘problems’ actually being fixed.

Meanwhile, hotel owners and managers staring down the low-season in Phuket and Pattaya have been raising the alarm highlighting reported drops of 20-30% compared to last year. Some hotels have admitted occupancy rates as low as 10-20% as the price wars continue to drive down room rates. They admit it’s an unsustainable situation fear that July and August could be as bad as June.

Kongsak Phupongsakorn is the head of the Thai Hotels Association for southern Thailand. He gave a wide-ranging interview this week to Manager Online and frankly addressed the situation.

‘There are hopes that Asian and Australian travellers will take up some of the slack in July and August. But that is all they are, hopes. Most people are expecting July to be just as bad as June.”

He blamed the problems not only on external factors but also on shortcomings in Thailand. One was the political uncertainty sparked in the run-up to the election in Thailand and the long process afterwards to form a new government.

The Phuket hotelier also criticised a lack of clarity in government policy and strategy regarding tourism.

Kongsak explained that Phuket has seen what he described as ‘leapfrog’ investment in the tourism industry on the island driven by a massive increase in tourist arrivals in five years from 9 million arrivals to 14 million.

“This poses a major problem for operators who find themselves competing for a shrinking market.”

He suggested that some rooms in Phuket were on sale at 50% of the low reason rate for June last year as desperate hotel operators try to recoup income on their investments. He also believes that there are now heightened tensions caused by the US-China trade war that is suffocating the tourist trade. This is most notably seen in a dramatic fall-off in Chinese tourists.

Kongsak also acknowledged the growing competition from other Asian tourist locations, especially Vietnam and Cambodia. He described a tourist industry in Phuket currently stranded with too many hotel rooms and not enough visitors.

A woman from Northern Ireland arrived in Phuket this week to repatriate the remains of her husband who drowned a week before before at the popular west-coast Surin beach. Just days before his drowning local beach users and surfers had highlighted the dangerous rip tides and the lack of lifeguards or warnings at the beach.

Read that story HERE.

In another rush of candor, Damrongkiat Phinitkar, the Secretary-General of the Entertainment and Tourist Industry of Pattaya told Sophon TV that the number of tourists and trade for June was between 20-30% down on the same month last year.

“Compared to last year, there are between 20-30% fewer tourists this low season.’

He blamed the absence of European tourists from the resort city. The tourist boss said that this had now become a long term trend but that in past years, the influx of Chinese tourists and travellers from other Asian countries had filled the gap. He hoped that European and western travellers are still more likely to arrive at high season.

Damrongkiat echoed other industry operators and confirmed that the glory days of the huge numbers of young and middle-aged European tourists crowding out the beer bars of Pattaya have come to an end. They have gone elsewhere or else they are put off by the high Thai baht and adverse economic conditions at home.

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Pattaya

Pattaya residents accuse Greek expat of throwing sewage, threatening neighbours, and damaging property

Maya Taylor

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Pattaya residents accuse Greek expat of throwing sewage, threatening neighbours, and damaging property | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Pattaya News

Residents of a housing estate in the district of Banglamung in Pattaya, have filed a police report against an expat they accuse of threatening and damaging behaviour. According to The Pattaya News, neighbours say the Greek national has threatened them, as well as “throwing sewage” at their homes, and damaging their fences. They add that, despite filing a police report about the man’s behaviour, which has also been captured on CCTV, they feel nothing is being done.

Pattaya residents accuse Greek expat of throwing sewage, threatening neighbours, and damaging property | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Pattaya News

In the police report, neighbours say the man is from Greece and around 50 years old. They accuse him of destroying fences with a hammer, while threatening and screaming at residents. According to the report, he has also thrown bags of sewage and other trash over fences and onto other people’s property. He is also accused of attacking a security guard and an elderly woman in the estate.

Residents say they are mystified as to why the man is acting this way, insisting they have done nothing to provoke such behaviour. The man’s name has not been disclosed.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pattaya

Pattaya bar ladies use YouTube to make money during pandemic – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

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Pattaya bar ladies use YouTube to make money during pandemic – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: YouTube

Can’t visit the ladies in Pattaya? Just go to YouTube and type “Pattaya bar live” in the search bar. A number of videos and live streams will come up from various bars in Pattaya. The area was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic with a ban on international tourists, battering the local economy that heavily relied on foreign visitors. But it looks like many of the bars, that cater to foreign, male customers, are making money by reaching out to customers who aren’t even in Thailand.

Many bars than now stream on YouTube list a link to a PayPal to allow customers to make a donation or buy a drink for one of the female bar staff. Some live stream at the bar, allowing the customers sitting at home in another country to connect with the bar staff, as if they were there.

Sweet Media, an account which started in March, posted a video of a pool party in Pattaya saying “nice to see the girls enjoying getting wet and letting their hair down at the pool party,” with a link to donate to the “Next Thai Girls Pool Party fund” and another link to buy a lady a drink for 150 baht.

A Pattaya bar under the YouTube account “S3xy bar soi buakhao” has been live streaming for months. They started with just a few hundred views and now break a thousand. They have chatroom rules: “Be nice to the girls, the bar and all customers past, present and future.”

Pattaya’s Oh Bar joined YouTube in August. They have live stream videos at the bar as well as pre-recorded videos like “Beer Bar Lady Beach Volleyball.” The women didn’t play much volleyball and lined up on the beach, each in a different coloured bikini to stretch. They took some shots of holding the ball before passing it around in a circle. Another video is of “Beer Bar Lady Amy” studying English, showing the woman at a desk in her pajamas, flipping through a textbook for 8 minutes.

Oh Bar also did a video asking the bar staff “What type of customer do you like?” Here’s what so of the Oh Bar ladies said …

“I like a man who takes care of me. I come to Pattaya to find man who support and marry me.”

“I like old man. I think old man makes me good and takes care of me and my family.”

“I like warm man. Good style. Takes care of me. Love me and friendly, comfortable… Marry me.”

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Pattaya

Pattaya bars making money from live streaming for customers overseas – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

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Pattaya bars making money from live streaming for customers overseas – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: YouTube: Cherry Bar Pattaya

Since foreign tourists can’t visit the bars in Pattaya, some of the bars are live streaming and posting videos online to allow people to chat and connect with the female bar staff, partially making up for revenue lost during the pandemic. The Pattaya News says the chats aren’t explicit, just a friendly chat between the bar staff with men who are stuck in other countries and unable to travel to Thailand. Facilities have also been set up so they can send money to the ladies.

Pattaya’s Cherry Bar started live streaming on YouTube, asking the viewers to buy drinks for the staff. It’s understood the staff get commission when a customer buys a drink for them, much the same as the situation when gentlemen attend the bars in person. There’s music, noise, banter, innuendo, short pants, over-priced drinks and too much eye make-up, just like the real thing.

“To buy a drink for the staff, please click this link! 125 baht each, or ring the bell for 900 baht.”

Apparently, the live streaming is working. Pattaya News says some bars have made “tens of thousands of US dollars.” Some have dedicated audiences. The Cherry Bar’s YouTube page started posting videos 3 months ago and has livestreams as well as videos of parties and women pole dancing at other Pattaya bars.

On a video of 2 women pole dancing at Destiny GoGo, a commenter wrote “Can’t wait get back Pattaya going to barfine both ladys” (we didn’t correct his mistakes) and Cherry Bar responded by saying “The sooner they reopen the airport, the better.”

On Pattaya’s Walking Street, bars now only have a few customers, mostly retired expats who were living in Thailand long-term, according to Pattaya News. Some foreign expats who frequent the Pattaya bars say they disagree with live streaming and are concerned about being filmed without their permission. Others say the staff are ignoring the customers at the bar and paying more attention to the customers online.

Other businesses in Pattaya have changed since the pandemic. Some are now marketing to a Thai customer base since there has been a ban on international tourists. Hotels that once catered to foreign travellers have been turned into alternative state quarantine facilities for Thais returning home from overseas. The Pattaya News even says some bars used to ban transgender people are now welcoming them.

To watch live streamed videos from Cherry Bar, click on the link here…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-v3sT9I9V8NWkT3bYTntgw/videos

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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