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Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis

The Thaiger

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Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis | The Thaiger
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Pattaya, like some of Thailand’s other former tourist hotspots, is facing some critical challenges. Hundreds of thousands of workers have left the city because there’s simply no work and up to 50% of the city’s shops are closed, some never to re-open. The Thaiger filmed most of this video on a long weekend at the end of October, the busiest Pattaya had been in 7 months.

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As Thailand struggles along without the benefit of its usual tourist traffic, four key former tourist magnets are facing particular hardships. Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai… and Pattaya. Whilst there are patches of business activity, just about everything connected directly with the city’s tourism business are perilously quiet, particularly on weekdays. That means the employees, the business owners, their families, the landlords and their bank are all suffering as the chain of woes reaches deep into Pattaya’s broader community.

Despite the Thai government’s attempts to deny the true reason for Pattaya’s popularity over the past 6 years, including the annual walk-through the city’s red light hot spots and declaring there was no crime or prostitution, the sleazier side of Pattaya has continued to grow, with a growing number of proprietors trying to glean an income out of a slowly declining western patronage. Things were changing and business was getting tighter long before the Covid-19 and Thailand’s border closures.

n 2016, Thailand’s first female Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, announced that Thailand was “closed to the sex trade”. Walking Street was to be gentrified and some of the red lights moved back from the foreshore to establish new bar and bar girl districts.

Several NGO reports have published the number of prostitutes in Pattaya were between 27,000 up to 30,000, depending on the report you read. The plight for these sex workers, post Covid, is bleak. As their work wasn’t officially recognised they weren’t able to access any of the government’s unemployment stimulus payments and weren’t protected under any of the country’s labour laws. Luckily for some of them, their employees worked hard to help them through the crisis. One of those is manager Timmy who works for the Night Wish Group.At their peak they ran up to 29 bars in Pattaya. Many of those have closed. At the moment they have about 13 open, as of the end of October.

For now Pattaya’s red lights have dimmed somewhat although it’s hardly all closed up. Some of the bars have also pivoted to an online model, with mixed results, where the bar girls, and bar boys, are able to ‘chat’ to online customers, viewers can buy them drinks and business continues as usual. Some bars have even stayed closed and are going 100% online with their digital bars. One proprietor told The Thaiger the online bar scene had become very lucrative but was unsure how long the novelty would last.

Apart from the steep decline in total tourist traffic, there’s been a big change in the mix, now mostly domestic tourists. Many businesses are switching up their business models to suit. Many just closed down, seemingly waiting it out to see what happens.

With much of the city’s old workforce abandoning Pattaya and heading home, there are still pockets of local life where communities have banded together to help each other through, whilst waiting for some sort of normality to return. For the tourist areas, mostly closer to the beaches, businesslike is patchy indeed.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dirty Farang

    October 27, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    of course they will survive! Yesterday just 156 new chinese tourists arrived in Thailand!

  2. Avatar

    Thomas

    October 27, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Don’t worry. The knight in shining armor is already sending his troops from Beijing. All will be good. Once Thailand is another Chinese protectorate all will be save. The Prime Minister will be called provincial governor and all will live happily ever after.

  3. Avatar

    Peter 2

    October 27, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    Thank You Tiger for interesting report.

    • Avatar

      Johnny Dee

      October 28, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Excellent report keep up the great work…. I’m so missing Pattaya and my beautiful fiancé but I speak to her everyday and send her money so she’s ok but it’s the single ladies with no income I worry about…. the borders need to open very soon as this virus is only a flu and we have to live with it. Life has to go on and the economy had to go on or we are all doomed.

  4. Avatar

    John Smith

    October 27, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Didn’t thaiger say less than a week ago that Thailand was getting on with things and boasting you speak with business people and everything wasn’t that bad. Now why don’t I think you have the courage to post my comment.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    October 27, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I hope the Hooters Bar does not survive.
    The last time I went in there I had to “Wait to be seated”
    There was nobody at the desk!
    Maybe that treatment is normal in the USA, but it does not work in Pattaya, where good looking girl bars are everywhere – with no wait to be seated.
    I hope the beach chairs go out of business. They took away the B50 deck chairs and replaced them with B80 sunbeds.
    The beer is top price and at six o’clock you have to pay up and go.
    However there are good places in Pattaya I will be sorry to see go. The Beer Garden is one.

    • Avatar

      Perceville Smithers

      October 28, 2020 at 3:43 am

      The Hooters in Thailand have poor service compared to the ones I’ve been to in the U.S. and Colombia. It’s so bad I’ve wondered if they were taught to be dismissive and inattentive their new hire training.

  6. Avatar

    EdwardV

    October 27, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Pattaya will survive, it might take awhile to fully bounce back, but survival is assured. It is a true economic engine in Thailand and unique. All it need to rebound is the resumption of western tourists.

  7. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    October 28, 2020 at 2:19 am

    Well, with 75-80% of the GDP (local) relying on tourism (mainly foreign) and no foreigner till probably Q4 2021… Pattaya has zero chance to go through the coming 12 months without some massive bankruptcies (hotel chains, real estate developers…). Pattaya needs 400 billion THB of foreign money to go on and nobody local can help on that scale (the local retired expats are usually on low pension scheme). Anyone with a million THB left next Summer will be able to buy some sizable biz.

    • Avatar

      Johnny Dee

      October 28, 2020 at 9:37 am

      All governments around the world please someone with common sense realise this is a flu a virus that’s going to be around for years we have to live with this or there’s going to be nothing left… If every president or government chief was like Donald Trump the world would be in a far better place…. good luck for next week and il pay for you’re flight to Thailand to meet the hierarchy and tell them how to end this crazy year on a high… good times are around the corner guys hopefully

  8. Avatar

    Mike Frenchie

    October 28, 2020 at 2:20 am

    Excellent report!

  9. Avatar

    Issan John

    October 28, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Opening Pattaya as a government-sponsored gambling hub, based initially around the Ambassador which is coincidentally built with exactly the right layout of ‘ballrooms’ that could be used for gambling with no changes to the layout, and with U-Tapao on the doorstep, would attract millions of Chinese as an alternative to Macau.

    That would put all the underground gambling out of business overnight, with their income going not to organised crime but to Thailand instead, and provide all the money required to keep Pattaya going and resolve any economic issues Thailand has as a result of losing tourists since Macau gets over US$40 billion a year from their ‘tourism’ industry..

    Just a thought …..

  10. Avatar

    Johnny Dee

    October 28, 2020 at 11:48 pm

    My friends have been going for many years and are proper sleazy predators but they understand the situation. Jack and Scott are very sleazy and are chomping at the bit but me on the other hand keep telling them it will open very soon as the country needs tourists hopefully not very long opening… keep the faith guys we shall return shortly

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Events

Pattaya firework party lights up the weekend | VIDEO

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Pattaya firework party lights up the weekend | VIDEO | The Thaiger

After much anticipation, the Pattaya Fireworks Festival lit up the sky this past weekend, delighting spectators with beautiful night beachside spectacle. More importantly, it was the first time Pattaya was packed with tourists since March this year, albeit mostly Thai tourists.

The event program was packed with long fireworks shows with hotels offering promotions for advanced bookings in an attempt to provide a much-needed boost to the local economy over the weekend.

To watch some of last night’s events from Mike Bridge, click HEREand HERE.

The annual festival saw Thais and foreigners taking part in the festivities as local bars, pubs, restaurants, and food vendors enjoying a bit more padding in their pockets. Organisers didn’t disappoint as they carried out their assurances to provide a world-class show with 4 fireworks shows per night. Such titles as “Shining in Sky,” “Paradise Pattaya, Everyday for Everyone,” “Pattaya Twilight, Decorated Stars,” and “Light is Life,” summed up the shows’ themes.

During one of the shows’ breaks, a 45 minute concert by popular Thai artist “Mean” graced the ears of onlookers, while an elephant show, by the Pattaya Elephant Camp, proved to be a sight for sore eyes. Marching bands featuring local Thai students started from the North Pattaya area and parading down Beach Road to the main stage area, located near Central Festival Mall filled the air with music, along with tiger shows and an art show by Nong Nooch Botanical Garden rounding up the schedule.

The popular Thai rock band “Big Ass” wrapped up the last fireworks show at 9:30 pm, with another popular Thai band “Boom Boom Cash” rocking out the night.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Pattaya

City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project

Maya Taylor

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City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sophon Cable TV / The Pattaya News

After years of talks, threats, and complaints, the abandoned Waterfront condo development at Pattaya’s Bali Hai pier looks set to be demolished. The Waterfront Suites and Residence is a half-finished condo project that was stalled in 2014 after safety inspectors discovered that the building’s fire escapes and elevator systems designs varied from the already approved construction designs. Read an earlier story about the eyesore HERE.

Pattaya’s mayor, Sonthaya Khunplume, says officials plan to tear down what many have condemned as an eyesore, “as soon as possible” – and charge the owners for it. According to a Pattaya News report, the date of the demolition, along with the name of the company being hired to carry out the work, have not yet been confirmed.

The controversy surrounding the development dates back to 2014, when construction was halted following multiple legal threats and complaints from local residents. The Israeli-owned development company, Bali Hai, are accused of violating building regulations, by building a structure that exceeds the legal height limit, as well as restrictions on proximity to the beach. Local residents have also complained that the development obstructs the panoramic vista of the bay from Pattaya Hill, and the view of the memorial to the renowned Admiral Abhakara Kiartivongse, Prince of Chumphon.

For their part, the developers insist they have complied with all regulations and had the necessary paperwork and permits for the project. It seems however, that Pattaya officials have had enough, and, ignoring the developer’s claims of bankruptcy, they say the whole Waterfront saga must end. They say the demolition will not affect lawsuits being brought by those who paid for condo units that never materialised, insisting that court hearings can still go ahead, regardless of the condition of the building.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pattaya

Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours

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Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours | The Thaiger

While the Covid pandemic has hit Thailand’s businesses hard, it has also washed away its not-so-legal soapy massage parlours after tourism has dried up its clientele. Such places, known as glorified brothels, have left many masseuses out of work as boards have barricaded the once booming establishments.

Soapy Massage (àap-òp-nûat, อาบอบนวด, literally bath, steam, massage)…
These are the bigger massage parlours where girls are presented in the fishbowl and you get the full program (including sex) for a fixed price, depending on the girl starting from 1,500 and up to 5,000 Baht.

Only a few of the soapy services have survived the pandemic in Pattaya, with Honey Massage Parlour being one of them, according to The Pattaya Mail. After adjusting to the new requirements for social distancing, the business has re-opened on November 19. However, its largest shop has closed, once known as Honey 1 on Soi Honey, or Soi 11, the windows are dark and barricaded. Honey Inn is also up for sale.

25 year old masseuse Maywadee, says she used to work in such parlours where she would get a cut of the 1,500 to 2,500 baht fee. She says she used to see up to 7 clients a day, but now that number has been cut in half as Chinese and Japanese tourists, who were her largest group of customers have dwindled. Now, she is thinking about heading back to her home city of Chiang Mai, to sell handicrafts, as her Pattaya income has dried up.

Such parlours feature masseuses that are usually not native to the area, as many come from lower socio-economic areas such as Thailands northeastern provinces, otherwise known as Isaan. Many make the trip to tourist-driven cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Bangkok and others, in an attempt to make a higher salary than they would if they were back in Isaan.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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