The president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association revealed to the local press that many Pattaya business owners are against any plan for Pattaya to become a trial, or sandbox, for foreign tourists to visit until the pandemic situation improves overall.
The statements were made by Mr. Boonanan Phattanasin, the president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, last week in a meeting with the local press to discuss his opinions, which represents many local businesses, in terms of a sandbox proposal for Pattaya.
The Pattaya News notes that the businesses opposed to Pattaya becoming a sandbox, or test ground for foreign tourists, are primarily those focused on domestic Thai tourists who rely little, or not at all, on foreign tourists such as seafood restaurants, Thai clubs, Thai BBQ establishments, and similar places.
Boonanan specifically mentioned Koh Larn business owners who have experienced a boom in business, especially over weekends, from domestic Thai tourists and were concerned that opening to foreign tourists and potentially having outbreaks of Covid-19 could cause devastating restrictions and closures once again. These business owners are also concerned that Thai tourists who are currently flocking to the island and Pattaya will avoid the area if they know the area is a sandbox and that some tourists could have Covid-19, even if vaccinated and having gone through testing and other precautions.
Under the sandbox plan, selected vaccinated tourists from certain countries would be able to visit the Pattaya area without a quarantine, although other restrictions would apply such as mandatory tracking and only being able to visit “approved” locations for at least the first few days of their trips while awaiting further Covid-19 testing. This plan would also require at least 70% of local residents, especially those working in the tourism industry, to be vaccinated and Pattaya plans to move forward on this plan in May. You can read more about that plan below:
The sandbox idea will be first trialed on Phuket, under a proposal announced by the Thai Government, and you can read more about that proposal below and the original proposal of Sandbox for Pattaya. However, if the plan is successful, it will likely be rolled out to Pattaya in late quarter 3 or quarter 4 regardless of the concerns of some business owners as a “land-based” trial. Koh Samui will likely also be an early test ground. In 2019, Pattaya and Phuket welcomed roughly ten million foreign tourists each, although Pattaya has picked up significantly with domestic tourism since the Covid-19 pandemic. Many tourist attractions and local businesses, however, are entirely dependent on foreign tourism and are eagerly awaiting their return to the country-without quarantine.
Boonanan concluded by admitting that the pressure of businesses that rely on foreigners, which is the majority of tourism to Pattaya, will likely overtake those of Thai focused business, but stated that the best solution for everyone was to ensure that a majority of local residents were vaccinated before opening and to see how a trial of the sandbox would go in Phuket or Koh Samui before allowing Pattaya to take place. In the meantime, Pattaya would continue to focus on appealing to domestic Thai tourists and running events and promotions nearly every weekend to attract them to Pattaya.