Documentary rocks Pattaya tourism
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Documentary rocks Pattaya tourism

Content of new show blocked in Thailand

Tourists make their way along the Walking Street in Pattaya. 
Tourists make their way along the Walking Street in Pattaya. 

With the image of Pattaya as a sex tourism destination being amplified by a German media organisation, the private sector is concerned about the consequences as it could impact the overall tourism market.

Deutsche Welle (DW) has published a documentary on YouTube about sex tourism in Pattaya, but the content has been blocked in Thailand.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said a similar incident regarding sex tourism in the city was reported in Germany roughly 20 years ago.

At that time it severely hampered confidence in tourism as the number of tourists from this market significantly dropped, said Mrs Marisa.

She said the related authorities should improve law enforcement, which has been the main problem for Pattaya and many destinations in Thailand for decades, to tackle the problems of illegal sex workers.

She added that even though Pattaya has developed various tourism products for families and the Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) segment, and it is not only famous for its red-light district as in the past, it was challenging and might not be possible to totally erase the perception of the city's sex tourism.

Mrs Marisa, who is also the owner of three hotels in Pattaya, said the solutions that the local administration and private sector could implement to solve this problem included consistently promoting other products and activities that draw other segments and gradually replacing sex tourism with other attractions.

"Pattaya is a melting pot that welcomes various segments, regardless of the nationality. It has local communities that can regularly draw tourists, such as the Takhian Tia tourism community. The city is also one of the most successful Mice hubs, as it has convention centres, an airport, and the upcoming EEC [the Eastern Economic Corridor] project in close proximity," said Mrs Marisa.

Mrs Marisa said she agreed with tourism operators in Pattaya that late opening hours until 4am should not be applied to the whole province.

Instead, the Pattaya Municipality should regulate proper entertainment zoning to make sure other segments that visit the city for other purposes, particularly families with children, do not get disturbed by loud noise.

"Not everybody visits Pattaya for entertainment or for sex tourism. Allowing all entertainment venues to open until 4am will definitely affect the majority in the city," said Mrs Marisa.

She said the city should be more stringent in maintaining the quality of infrastructure.

Pattaya, which can collect taxes and use its own budget, should upgrade public infrastructure, particularly those concerning the environment, such as wastewater treatment systems, Mrs Marisa said.

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