Pattaya reopening likely to be delayed

Pattaya reopening likely to be delayed

Locals still lack purchasing power

A beach in Pattaya is quiet on April 21, 2021. (Photo: Chaiyot Pupattanapong)
A beach in Pattaya is quiet on April 21, 2021. (Photo: Chaiyot Pupattanapong)

Pattaya plans to adjust its reopening plan as Thailand may not be able to control the high rate of infections and provide sufficient vaccinations until the fourth quarter.

Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said tourism operators acknowledged the plan to reopen two districts to international tourists in September may be delayed as the country grapples with a severe vaccine shortage during the third wave, which began to affect the reopening scheme in Phuket and Samui last week.

"We might not be able to open as scheduled if the province cannot build herd immunity by the deadline. Even if we did reopen, no tourists would visit us if there's a widespread pandemic or poor tourist sentiment," said Mr Thanet.

Tourism operators in Pattaya hope to earn 30% of the revenue tallied in 2019 during the upcoming high season to sustain business as the prolonged outbreak and lockdown batters the industry in the city.

In 2019, Chon Buri received tourism income of 276 billion baht from 18.6 million visitors. With the pandemic last year, income plummeted to 66 billion baht as the number of tourists fell to 6.97 million.

He said even as Phuket has fully reopened to vaccinated foreigners, stringent preventive measures and soft demand in the early stages mean many shops, restaurants and entertainment venues remain closed, which is discouraging travellers from considering an excursion to Thailand.

Mr Thanet said the situation in Pattaya is similar to the Andaman Islands, particularly with local tourists restricted by the lockdown order.

"Some may say short-haul destinations like Pattaya will benefit from the domestic market once local tourists are allowed to travel. But people are not taking leisure trips for the time being as they have weaker purchasing power," he said. "This is the most critical problem for our economy."

Regarding overseas travel regulations, Thailand may be downgraded to the UK's red list. Chiravadee Khunsub, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's London office, said the British government will review its country list on Aug 4 or 5, with Thailand likely added to the red list after the Philippines was moved from amber to red.

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