The following photos and gallery were taken by our Thai team and originally published for Thepattayanews.co.th, our popular Thai version of our news. We got a major reaction from our Thai readers from these pictures and articles so we decided to share them here.
These are all Walking Street centric photos, arguably one of the areas hit the most by now almost three months of nightlife closures in a row, eight in the past year roughly, and over a year of no foreign tourists without two weeks of quarantine. It is notable that some expat-centric areas of town, such as Eastern Pattaya or parts of Jomtien, are in much better shape and fairly normal, but the ex-pat neighborhoods is not what made Pattaya the 19th most visited city in the world in 2019 and just behind Phuket with almost ten million foreign tourists (and far more domestic ones, with about 7 million domestic visitors.) Central Pattaya has been hard hit, although some areas, notably Tree Town and parts of Soi Buakhao and LK Metro, have seen many new businesses prepared for opening in hopes of being able to reopen and betting on this area for the future.
According to Pattaya City Officials, Pattaya’s economy is about 80-90 percent reliant on foreign and domestic tourism, driven heavily by entertainment, hospitality, and tourist attractions. The first category is closed by government order and with that, the latter two have taken significant hits in their foot traffic and customer base, with hotels locally reporting less than 10 percent occupancy (and many around 3 percent) and many shops, at least in Central Pattaya, saying their customer traffic is down around 90 percent or more. Restaurants have been hit hard by restrictions such as a ban on alcohol sales, but are allowed to have dine-in, unlike Bangkok.
Phuket has begun to reopen as part of a sandbox plan, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and some other locations are opening “soon” within the next few weeks under a slightly different “sealed route” plan. However, Chonburi continues to struggle under hundreds of Covid-19 cases daily, mostly from markets, factories, construction camps, and migrant worker dormitories, and as a result sees no relief in sight for a city highly reliant on tourism, hospitality, and entertainment venues to drive their economy.
When will Pattaya begin to wake up? Even domestic tourism would assist with the problem and running events to attract local tourists, but that is limited currently, especially after new alcohol restrictions from the Chonburi Governor this week. The key, of course, is the vaccination program for Chonburi which should see significant ramping up in the next few weeks.
Pattaya specifically purchased enough doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine for 50,000 people and will start the rollout of this imminently, using their own budget to pay for it. This came after the central government vaccine rollout did not provide as many vaccines to Pattaya as expected initially (far, far less actually) as they prioritized Bangkok where the majority of the Covid-19 infections have been, and places like Phuket and Samui, islands that can more easily open to foreign tourists earlier.
For now, all business owners can do is wait….with no idea of how long the wait will be after three months of restrictions, closures, and other Covid-19 measures already in place devastating the local economy. Protests and pleading for help have been coming especially from the hospitality and entertainment industry over the past weeks, escalating as owners claim they have seen little to no financial support for the ongoing closures and no sign of an end in sight.
For now, Pattaya stays sleeping, especially after 8:00 P.M…..when will it wake up?