Slowdown hits Pattaya hoteliers
Hotel business in Pattaya has begun to feel the pinch of the strong baht and the economic slowdown, with reports of declining occupancy rates.
Under normal circumstances, most hotels in the popular beach city would be fully booked during the high season, but this year the overall occupancy rate is 80%, said Pattaya deputy governor Manoj Nongyai
The surging local currency has made foreign travellers more price-conscious, he said.
The city is a first-night stay for many foreigners visiting Thailand, according to a study. They then choose to stay the other nights on Koh Samet in Rayong or in Bangkok before flying home.
The slowdown in hotel business also stems from changes in behaviour, especially by Chinese tourists, who tend to travel independently in small groups instead of buying tour packages.
These travellers prefer walk-in booking when they arrive at a destination, or they use a sharing-economy platform to enjoy lower costs for accommodation, Mr Manoj said.
Pattaya continues to attract some 450,000 visitors daily. The top three tourist groups this year are Chinese, Indians and Russians.
The Indian market has shown strong potential, with visitors still travelling in groups of 20-30 people, particularly for incentives, bachelor parties and weddings. Bollywood productions use Pattaya as a shooting location, inspiring Indians to visit Thailand.
Average spending for Indian tourists is 10,000 baht per person per day, compared with 5,000 baht for Chinese visitors.
Mr Manoj said large crowds in the past generated about 480 tonnes of garbage a day. But the city has improved its management scheme and cut waste to 450 tonnes daily.
Today the city joined the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Bangchak Corporation Plc on a campaign to reduce plastic waste in the tourism industry.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said responsible tourism will be the flagship project next year. The agency aims to cut plastic waste from the tourism industry in half in 2020.
Bangchak president Chaiwat Kovavisarach said the company is highlighting green issues, including the circular economy and the recycling process.
Used plastic bottles can be deposited at Bangchak's 262 petrol stations for recycling.
A leatherback turtle statue made with plastic bottles from the project, to be officially launched on Dec 18, will serve as a new landmark to create environmental awareness at Jomtien beach in Chon Buri province, near Pattaya, for the next six months.