Strong baht deals blow to Pattaya travel
The strong baht has taken a heavy toll on European tourist numbers in the resort city, according to the Entertainment & Tourism Association of Pattaya City.
"Over the past few months, European travellers have hardly come to Pattaya at all because of the baht's appreciation," said Damrongkiat Phinitkarn, the association secretary.
Tourists are likely opting to go to other countries to save on costs, he said. Additionally, some foreign investors in entertainment venues in Pattaya have begun pulling out, according to Mr Damrongkiat.
He voiced optimism about the government's much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme, saying it could help draw foreign tourists to the city, which is close to U-Tapao International Airport.
The scheme covers Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces. According to him, the number of travellers in Pattaya during this low season has fallen by 20-30% from the same period last year.
The number of Chinese tourists, he said, has also dropped markedly as a result of the boat tragedy in Phuket that claimed 47 Chinese lives in July last year. Amporn Kaewsang, one of the managers of The Stones House, an entertainment venue on Pattaya's Walking Street, said Indian tourists are replacing European travellers.
She also noted that a number of beer bars have closed as a result of the disappearing Europeans. She said bar operators should respond to the currency problem by marketing to bring travellers back.
She said local operators are pinning their hopes that the EEC project will spur economic development and bring people back to Pattaya.