Entertainment tourism: Pattaya for Europeans is over - 30% down this year, official
Picture: Sophon TV
A leading tourism official has confirmed what many Pattaya residents have suspected for a long time.
The days of Europeans visiting Pattaya in large numbers for the entertainment industry are gone.
The strength of the baht, alternatives elsewhere and the rise of Chinese and now Indian tourism has seen a marked shift on who is coming to Pattaya and what they are doing there.
But all is not doom and gloom just yet, Pattaya has the potential to bounce back.
Secretary of the Entertainment Industry and Tourism Association of Pattaya Damrongkiat Phinitkarn gave Sophon TV some frank and damning statistics about the low season in Pattaya this year.
Picture: Sophon TV
He said that compared to last year there are between 20 and 30% less tourists this low season.
He said that it was obvious to anyone - beer bars, nightclubs, pubs and other bars were all but empty.
Europeans are no longer coming due to the strength of the baht and other factors like competition elsewhere.
Damrongkiat said that while this was a long term trend and that the Chinese tour groups had taken their place this was now also under threat.
Events such as the Phuket boat tragedy and assault at Don Muang airport on a Chinese man have proved disastrous. Chinese tourism was also significantly down in Pattaya.
He accepted that FIT Chinese - the so called Free Independent Travelers who book their own flights and accommodation rather than rely on group tours - had increased.
Operators who wanted to stay afloat these days would have to appeal to them and not just rely on group tours for their trade. Relying on group tours alone was a risky strategy.
New trends saw a rise in Indians visiting Pattaya, he said, but despite some visitors from Europe it was plain to see that generally Russians and Europeans were no longer visiting in large and sufficient numbers to keep the entertainment industry afloat.
Thaivisa notes that many in Pattaya have said that Chinese travelers are not great supporters of the entertainment industry especially its beer bars and clubs. Many are just there to look and some doubt whether Indians have the spending power to make a difference.
Damrongkiat did,however, sound a few notes of optimism for the future. Pattaya's proximity to airports like Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao and its experience in organizing festivals and activities to bring in tourists were cause for some brightness.
Picture: Sophon TV
And the development of the EEC (Eastern Economic Corridor) would help Pattaya maintain its place in the tourism landscape of Thailand albeit with a vastly changed client base.
Source: Sophon TV
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