The following is an opinion article. The statements within are their own.
Will Pattaya recover faster than the rest of the hard hit Thailand tourism industry when borders begin to creak open more widely likely sometime next year?
By: Adam Judd
Yesterday, November 26th, 2020, the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha made a long, sweeping statement about the Covid-19 situation around the world and in Thailand, as well as the countries plans in terms of vaccines, re-opening to tourism, etc. Although the statement appeared to contain at least one error in regards to measures being taken in foreign countries, specifically Holland, it overall provided a guide to what one can expect going into 2022 and foreign tourism to Thailand.
That statement, in its whole, can be found below:
Some readers got the impression this means Thailand will wait until its entire population is vaccinated to begin to open to larger audiences but this isn’t true, as he stated that Thailand is working on ways to advance the timetable to welcome back tourists to the country, knowing that a significant number (millions) of people and businesses depend on tourism and the longer it takes the more businesses and infrastructure will collapse. It is unclear how this timetable will be advanced, but will likely involve potential larger travel bubbles, a clear plan on how to handle people who have taken the vaccine and other measures. Regular “old school” tourism where most countries could walk in with a passport and get a 30 day stay are likely a long, long ways off. However, this opinion isn’t about that.
What this opinion IS about is when the door begins to creak open more widely (and most can come back now on a tourist visa, if they are willing to do the quarantine, a large improvement already) will Pattaya recover faster than “general tourism?”
Many seem to think so. First, that aforementioned tourist visa program:
Now, why do many seem to think Pattaya will recover faster than the rest of the country in tourism, especially the Southern islands? Here are a few reasons that have been sent to The Pattaya News over the past several months and overhead in conversations with local residents and business owners, including prominent owners of tourist attractions and the Eastern Hotel Industry Association.
-Proximity to Bangkok. Much easier to jet down to Pattaya than the more remote parts of the country.
-Ease of transportation to get to Pattaya and increased work taking place on future transportation options involving the Eastern Economic Corridor program.
-People have been cooped up for a year in many countries and may be longer by the time things open. People want a party. Pattaya is known for, above else, its nightlife and party atmosphere.
-The unique “value proposition” of Pattaya being a great city for singles and the red light district that doesn’t officially exist. It isn’t going away and although has been hit hard by the pandemic has, as usual, shown that it will hold on. In some countries bars, nightclubs and places to seek “company” have been shuttered or closed off and on for months. Many are looking to come and relax after these restrictions.
-A year without high paying work (or longer) will likely see thousands of Thai nationals return en masse to Pattaya, likely choosing it over the Southern islands or more remote tourist areas.
-Based on the amount of posts, interest and demand on forums devoted to coming back to Thailand and travel there is still an immense interest in Pattaya. Despite many losing income and jobs during the pandemic many have not and in fact have saved money due to lack of traveling or places where they normally spend money being shuttered.
-Many regular Pattaya visitors visit three to four times a year. With most losing all their trips as well as ability to see their friends or their “tilac” a large amount of these will likely be coming back at the same time as soon as borders re-open,
-Although many business and places have closed, Pattaya is nowhere near the devastation of Koh Samui or Phuket or other popular tourist destinations where nearly everything is shut. Pattaya has been hit very, very hard but many places remain open and the city is at least “ok” on weekends recently.
-Chinese are eager to travel and due to the ease of getting here Pattaya is high on the agenda. Many attractions previously focusing on Chinese are planning to go all out to attract them back.
-There is a high demand from Indian tourists to return (simple time on any forums can see this.) Although most are currently shut, the Indian nightclubs and restaurants in Pattaya did make good business from this sector and will likely bounce back, especially the large Indian nightclubs. Spending from middle class and upper class Indian customers were increasing greatly prior to the Covid-19 situation and they increasingly go to bars and nightlife unlike the majority of Chinese and Russian customers.
-Jomtien has, for the most part, avoided the infrastructure hits and closures you see on Second Road and North Pattaya and the smaller soi’s with many closed venues and business. This is a popular area for Russians who also wish to come back and will be able to handle the demand immediately.
What do you think? Will Pattaya see a recovery faster than the rest of the country? Keep in mind, this article isn’t predicting WHEN borders will creak open next year or how long it will take. It is only saying that many feel that when it does, Pattaya will see a boom, at least for a “short time.”
It is worth noting, however, that some areas may not recover well, if at all. Soi Arab (16), the centerpiece of the Arab area of Pattaya, has been hit particularly hard and most venues are permanently gone and for sale. Soi 7 and Soi 8 have also been hit very hard. Soi 6 and Made in Thailand looked rocky for a while but both seem to have found a second life in online live streams and online chats catering to people in locked-down countries with everything closed and will be interesting to see what it looks like when it reopens. Walking Street and LK Metro have been hit, but will likely recover quickly and many venues are not permanently sold and plan to re-open when things improve like Imagine, Skyfall, JP Bar, Pier and Marine. Soi Buakhao and Soi Boomerang, due to the amount of expat facing bars, is doing well considering the situation and should only improve in the future.
Thanks for reading, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.