TAT: Tourists flocking to Pattaya, outlook is good

About 8 million tourists visited Pattaya in the first six months of this year. (Post Today file photo)

About 8 million tourists visited Pattaya in the first half of this year, putting the resort city on course to top last year's total, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Suladda Sarutilavan, the TAT Pattaya office director, said on Thursday the number of visitors was up 5% on last year during the first six months, at about 8 million.

Tourist spending during the same period was 110 billion baht, 15% more than in the first two quarters last year, she said.

Ms Suladda expected the number of tourists and their spending in 2017 will surpass last year's figures. "The mid-year figures were an encouraging trend," she said.

Last year, 13.7 million tourists went to Pattaya, shelling out 200 billion baht for accommodation and other activities during their stay.

Foreigners accounted for 65% of all tourists last year and locals 35%. China visitors dominated at 2.54 million, followed by 800,000 Russians, 600,000 Koreans, 400,000 Indians and 400,000 Germans.

"Pattaya is the most popular Thai destination for the Chinese," Ms Suladda said.

The number of tourists flocking to Pattaya should continue to increase as transport networks promote the city in years to come, according to the tourism official.

The government is promoting U-tapao airport as another gateway to the eastern provinces and will build a rail link between U-tapao and Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

A ferry service has been launched, linkiing it across the Gulf with Cha-am in Phetchaburi, and another sea link will join Sattahip in Chon Buri and Koh Chang in Trat.

"All will help promote tourism in Pattaya," Ms Suladda said.