Pattaya targets 27 million tourists in 2024 with robust strategies

PHOTO: Pattaya by mrsiraphol via Freepik

Thai government officials have set their sights on ambitious targets and goals to bounce back from the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in 2024. Pattaya, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, amounting to about 90%, was majorly impacted as it has not yet fully recovered to the 2019 levels, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

However, the Thai government is undeterred and has set a goal of attracting 27 million tourists in 2024. This might seem overly ambitious but the TAT is confident that with a robust domestic tourism strategy and the hopeful return of Chinese tourists, this target can be achieved.

The coronavirus pandemic inadvertently boosted domestic tourism in Pattaya as the city shifted its focus from foreign to local tourists. Pattaya embarked on an aggressive strategy of conducting weekly events ranging from sports, music, food, culture, and more to attract visitors from all around Thailand, particularly Bangkok and eastern provinces. This strategy turned out to be more successful than anticipated, making Pattaya a popular destination for domestic tourists, especially during holidays and weekends.

As a result, Pattaya plans to continue with a similar aggressive strategy of hosting weekly events to encourage tourism in 2024. However, it’s important to note that the majority of these events will cater to Thai tourists and will be centred around holidays and weekends.

While the significance of tourism to Pattaya’s economy is undeniable, residents expressed mixed feelings about these constant events. The crux of the issue is the city’s existing infrastructure, which struggles to cope with the influx of tourists, resulting in traffic congestion.

Several plans and proposals are in place to address these issues, including the ambitious Bangkok-style BTS system. However, it is unlikely that this system will be implemented in 2024.

Chinese tourism

Chinese tourism is a second key factor that could help Pattaya achieve its 27 million tourists target in 2024. The recovery of Chinese tourism has not met the expectations of Thai officials due to several factors, many of which are beyond the control of the tourism officials.

These include a stagnating economy and difficulties faced by Chinese tourists in leaving China. However, the Thai government is hopeful that the situation will improve with the removal of the quarantine requirement in March.

Regarding Pattaya’s traffic problems, the city has plans to widen and expand parts of Jomtien Beach Road in 2024. Additionally, the city is looking into expanding the sand on Jomtien Beach at the popular end closer to Pattaya up to near the Dongtan Police Box.

Furthermore, there are big development plans for the Bali Hai Pier. There’s also the waterfront condo project which is expected to be transformed into a luxury hotel.

In terms of legislation, the long-proposed afternoon 2pm-5pm ban on alcohol sales is likely to be abolished in 2024. The U-Tapao airport is also expected to receive more international flights.

Another significant development to keep an eye on is the potential changes to the marijuana laws. At present, marijuana is decriminalised and in a grey state, leading to the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries and cafes in Pattaya. However, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin promised to limit marijuana use to medical purposes only this year.

Legalising prostitution

Lastly, legalising prostitution is also on the cards. Despite claims by officials that there is no prostitution in Pattaya, it is an open secret that the grey sector is a major part of the tourist economy in Pattaya. This proposal is likely to pass as it has garnered support from both the current government and the opposition.

The new year is shaping up to be a monumental year for Pattaya, with a host of changes and developments lined up. It will be interesting to watch how these plans develop in 2024.

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Top is a multifaceted news writer with a keen interest in real estate and travel. Top currently covers local Thai news at Thaiger. As a travel buff, Top blogs about his travels- around the world and Thailand- during his free time.

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