Following the closure of most businesses in the Banglamung area, many Thai and foreign business owners have been posting on social media and complaining to authorities over the past 24 hours, demanding compensation and support from the government for the sudden closure of businesses with no advance notice over what is normally the busiest time of year.
Many restaurant owners in particular, moved to takeout only, complained that they had fully booked restaurants for New Year’s Eve dinners and had purchased large amounts of champagne and extra food and ingredients and were now out large amounts of money due to the closure notice being made with no advance notice. Although some bar and nightclub owners expected a potential measure of restrictions most restaurant owners, both Thai and Foreign, stated they did not expect to be shut, especially with no advance notice.
There was also anger shown to local and regional officials who had repeatedly said they did not want to “lockdown” or shutdown businesses to control the virus in the area and knew the impact a shutdown would have on business owners who have already been devastated by the impact the past year has had on Pattaya with foreign tourists essentially being banned from entering the country. Some business owners on social media also questioned why they were “being punished” but business owners in nearby Sattahip or Si Racha were still allowed to open and they were losing customers as there were no domestic travel restrictions.
In 2019, Pattaya was the 19th most visited city in the world and welcomed almost ten million visitors, a record. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the city, which relies on tourism for about 80 percent of it’s GDP, has been devastated.
The Thai Government and local officials, however, have mostly stayed mum on any plans to provide assistance to areas like Banglamung and Rayong that have suffered business closures that heavily impact both employees and business owners.
It remains to be seen if any such programs or compensation will arrive, but The Pattaya News notes it is unlikely. Pattaya was originally set to throw a New Year Countdown Festival with the top performing musical artists in Thailand but as the Covid-19 cluster of infections spread across the country and into Chonburi the event was cancelled. The event would have potentially brought hundreds of thousands of domestic tourists and a much needed business to many local business owners, especially those catering to Thai tourists.
Now, however, the city will remain painfully quiet at midnight tonight.