Dip in Pattaya hotel occupancy despite Songkran festivities

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Pattaya’s hotels and those in neighbouring provinces have seen a dip in occupancy rates during the Wan Lai Songkran festival. This downturn has prompted hoteliers to critique the promotional strategy for the extended 21-day Songkran celebration.

Morrakot Kuldilok, head of the eastern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), projected that the occupancy rate in Pattaya would touch 70% over the weekend. This expectation is due to the Wan Lai, a late Songkran celebration, taking place in several areas from April 16 to 21, including Bang Saen, Na Kluea, and major Pattaya shopping centres. This figure marks a decrease from the over 90% occupancy experienced during the peak travel period on April 13 to 14.

Morrakot also stated that hotels could anticipate a surge in last-minute bookings over the weekend. The Wan Lai festival attracts many young local and regional travellers, who often opt for budget hotels or make day trips. It’s not just Pattaya feeling the influx of visitors; even second-tier provinces like Chanthaburi are seeing tourists drawn by Wan Lai events.

“Even with an economy that’s not at its strongest, domestic tourists are still setting aside a travel budget to visit Pattaya, attracted by the various activities and a range of accommodation options, including budget-friendly choices.”

However, the THA chief noted that repeat guests at four-star and five-star hotels usually check out after the main Songkran events conclude.

During the extended holiday period, most hotels operated at full capacity, buoyed by the improved international tourism sentiment, which led to an increase in large tour groups. Despite a high occupancy rate, Pattaya’s average daily room rate remains lower than the 2019 average.

Strategy letdown

Morrakot estimated that the revenue would reach 80% of the 2019 figure, primarily due to the slow recovery of flights. She criticised the government’s 21-day Songkran promotion, stating that it lacked an effective strategy and that most nationwide events were not distinctive enough to attract tourists.

“Compared with Pattaya’s Fireworks Festival, which successfully drew in tourists, many Songkran events failed to entice visitors.”

Boonkerd Suksrikarn, the general manager of Sunbeam Hotel in Pattaya and a former vice-president of the association, pointed out that the Wan Lai festival in Chon Buri is not well-known amongst foreigners, reported Bangkok Post.

The Sunbeam Hotel manager suggested that these celebrations be amplified on a larger scale, incorporating unique storytelling and appealing cultural content to attract foreign tourists. Most attendees are locals and expatriates, he added.

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