Hoteliers in Pattaya have warned that if they do not get assistance with outstanding loans many could end up in the hands of foreign investors.
Phisut Sae-khu, president of the eastern region's hotel association, said yesterday that hundreds of operators in Pattaya and in the East in general were in dire financial straits after nearly two years of Covid-19.
Many were struggling to keep their business afloat and had pinned their hopes on Pattaya being able to reopen to tourists on Oct 1 as planned.
"Although most tourists would not be from the same groups as before, the arrival of Thai tourists would still be helpful to the tourism sector in Pattaya," Mr Phisut said.
If the pandemic enters a third year with no sign that Pattaya can reopen fully, many hotels in the resort city will end up in the hands of foreign investors. Local hoteliers could not continue to carry the heavy financial burden, he said.
Groups of foreign investors, mostly Chinese, were interested in buying hotels in Pattaya, the hotel association president said.
He called on the government to pay more attention to the plight of the hotel sector and introduce measures to better address their problems. This should include suspension of loan payments to financial institutions that hoteliers had borrowed from to keep their businesses running.
"If remedial action is not taken, the crisis in the tourism sector will persist. Hotel operators will be left with no choice but to sell their businesses to foreign investors and a huge amount of revenue from tourism would then flow out of the country," Mr Phisut said.
Chon Buri governor Phakkharathon Thianchai, meanwhile, said the province is now ready for the planned reopening on Oct 1.
However, he said he doubted how many foreign tourists would want to visit Chon Buri and Pattaya as they will still be required to stay within limited areas and use specific routes prepared for the so-called Pattaya Moves On programme in the first seven days of their stays.
Under the travel reopening scheme, which covers Bang Lamung distirct, Sattahip district and Pattaya City, only tourists who test negative for Covid-19 after seven days will be allowed to travel freely.
Chon Buri has been chosen by the government along with Bangkok, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chiang Mai to spearhead its plan to reopen to tourists on Oct 1 and must achieve a 70% vaccination target by the end of this month in order to get the green light by the Ministry of Public Health, he said.