The following is a weekly feature in which we take a look at the week ahead and the top stories developing or taking place to keep an eye on. These stories have been chosen by our editorial team and reflect stories that will see future development over the following week as well as things going on locally in Pattaya for our readers to be aware of. These are specifically chosen for the week of December 6th to the 12th.
1. Pattaya Musical Festival to take place next weekend, thousands expected to attend
The second of three major events in the past month, the Pattaya Music Festival takes place next weekend and is expected to bring thousands to Pattaya. Four stages will be set up with dozens of bands, three stages in Pattaya and one in Jomtien. With concern around Covid-19 cases in the North of Thailand there will be Covid-19 measures as well taking place and everyone is asked to wear a mask. There will be major road closures, especially on Beach Road, both days from 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM.
2. Concerns rise about Covid-19 cases in the North of Thailand linked to illegal Thai returnees from Myanmar.
Over the past week multiple cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed domestically, including two locally spread cases, linked to a group of people who had recently returned from Tachiliek, Myanmar. The town of Tachiliek is located on the border with Mae Sai and is a popular “entertainment” town employing hundreds of Thai nationals in the entertainment industry. A recent outbreak of Covid-19 in the town caused officials to institute a draconian tough stay-at-home style lockdown, shuttering nearly all business. This in return caused many people to flee back to Thailand, choosing to return illegally in many cases to avoid a quarantine. Officials are now working on contact tracing and quarantining those affected and have said those who set the country at risk will face significant legal charges. Officials are calling for calm and saying they will not be ordering closing of businesses or lockdowns at this time and that the North is still safe. However, the scare has caused many domestic tourists to cancel trips to the North during the time of year that is generally the busiest.
3. Pressure grows on Thai Government from hospitality and tourism industry to develop a faster plan to recover foreign tourism and develop a plan for people who are vaccinated.
As news of vaccines being approved in the UK was released last week and people cautiously began to hope that a widespread rollout would be possible in 2021, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha cautioned that Thailand would not start vaccinating its population and rolling out the vaccine until May. This caused immediate concern from the hotel and tourism industry, already essentially shuttered since March of 2019, warning that another six months of closure will see the infrastructure for tourism devastated even further. The industry is pushing the Thai Government hard to develop a plan for travel bubbles from low risk countries (especially China) and come up with a plan for people who are vaccinated that does not involve a fourteen day quarantine. The Thai Government says it will consider all proposals but that doesn’t mean they will be accepted.
4. With Prime Minister Prayut being declared not guilty by constitutional court in military housing case, what will be the anti-establishment protesters next move?
Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha dodged a bullet this week and was declared not guilty by the Thai Constitutional Court in a case regarding alleged misuse of military housing. Although the verdict was expected by many, especially considering it is common practice in the Thai Army for former high ranked leaders to stay in housing past retirement with over a hundred others currently doing the same, the reaction was still one of anger from pro-democracy/anti-establishment protesters who have been calling for months for the removal of the Thai Prime Minister, along with other demands and reforms. What will the protesters next move be? We will likely find out next week.