CHON BURI: Beaches and tourist attractions in Pattaya buzzed with tourists yesterday, the first day of a six-day long holiday, with hotel rooms on Koh Larn, an island situated about 7 kilometres off the coast, fully booked.
Many Thais and foreign tourists boarded ferries at Bali Hai pier in South Pattaya yesterday to reach the island, resulting in the Pattaya City Municipality and the Marine Office deploying officials to facilitate their travel at the pier.
Authorities sought cooperation from ferry operators to strictly abide by safety rules regarding boat passenger numbers, while passengers were told to wear life jackets.
More parking spaces were also arranged to accommodate the rising number of vehicles, local authorities said.
Hotel operators said the room occupancy rate was 100% for the estimated 3,000 rooms on the island since early this month.
There was a rise in demand for rooms on Koh Larn after the caretaker cabinet on July 25 approved a cabinet secretariat proposal to declare Monday as a special government holiday, creating a six-day vacation period from July 28 to Aug 2 to spur tourism.
Yesterday was His Majesty the King's birthday, Aug 1 is Asanha Bucha Day, and Aug 2 is the beginning of Buddhist Lent -- all of which are government holidays. The extra day makes it an uninterrupted six day-weekend for government employees.
The long holiday period was expected to generate more than 100 million baht on the island.
Meanwhile, Koh Samui airport in the southern province of Surat Thani was lively and crowded with Thai and foreign tourists, who began arriving in large numbers at the island yesterday, thanks to the cabinet's decision.
All Bangkok Airways flights from Suvarnabhumi airport to Samui were fully booked, as were all direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore to the island.
Many other tourists arrived on the island from Surat Thani by ferry.
It was estimated that at least 20,000 tourists will visit Koh Samui during the long holiday, substantially boosting the local economy.
Some of the visitors are expected to continue their journey from Koh Samui to visit other islands, including Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, especially those among the younger generations looking to attend the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan at Hat Rin beach on Aug 3.