This seaside resort on Thailand’s east coast is still very quiet, according to the president of the tourism board of Chonburi province, since it was reopened on November 1 to international tourists, 95% of travellers are Thai, instead of tourists, but business people and ex-pats. And many of the tourists pull themselves up in no time when they notice that everything is closed and that there are no places to go out or go out.
The president estimates that of the 1,000 to 2,000 international tourists who visit Thailand daily, about 10% of travellers stop in Pattaya, according to the Thai Tourism Authority. The city sees an average of 6,000 to 7,000 visitors per month – a very small number from the days leading up to the pandemic when an average of 1 million people visited Pattaya per month during the peak season from November to March.
He says the turnover rate is now much faster than it used to be, which makes up for the increase in bookings. People book one night and then leave, while before the Covid19 pandemic, a single booking often meant 10 nights to 2 weeks.
A closer look at the booking numbers reveals the reason for so many short stays: most international arrivals coming to Thailand are ex-pats coming home. They arrive, take their RT-PCR test and check-in at the desired hotel while waiting for their results. Once the test is negative, they go straight to their home or condominium or rent one apartment.
The tourism board chairman sees the lack of tourists in Pattaya as a direct result of the complicated rules people have to go through to reach Thailand, which discourages potential tourists. Other holiday countries require vaccination and a negative test before boarding and… that’s it! No complicated document filing processes or quarantine or required hotel bookings. He suggested at least switching to antigen testing kits, which are exponentially cheaper and much faster, so that arriving travellers can start their vacation right away.
But the other emoluments that have seriously disenfranchised foreign travellers are the draconian restrictions on drinking and entertainment. The unnecessary confusion of opening 17 tourist destinations in the sandbox but allowing alcohol in 4 of them annoys travellers and creates a negative reputation for potential travellers online.
Even if they don’t go into the wild party demographics, a large percentage of foreigners would like to have a drink with their meal. But speaking of the parties if it’s not in everyone’s best interest, there’s no denying the appeal of nightlife and entertainment for Thailand and Pattaya in particular. And even for those who don’t go to the clubs, the nightlife attracts more tourists, allowing more local businesses to open and flourish, creating a butterfly effect that benefits all tourist areas in Pattaya.
The tourism board chairman said he supports the efforts of hundreds of local bar and business owners and 8 major tourism associations who have asked the government to reopen nightlife and entertainment in Pattaya sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, it looks like the holidays in Pattaya are going to be very quiet…very quiet in fact!
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