Pattaya retail workers report quiet Songkran business

Friday, 25 April 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 17 By  Jetsada Homklin and Nutsara Duangsri

Fewer tourists and a political cloud hanging over Thailand dampened the fortunes and attitudes in Pattaya’s retail sector as everyone from motorbike taxis to guest houses reported quiet times and slower business.

Months of political turmoil in Bangkok has depressed tourist arrivals and anxiety over the country’s future has Thais closely watching what they spent this Thai New Year. Many Bangkok denizens came to the city to celebrate, but instead of street food and restaurants, many brought their own cooking gear and ate on the beach.

Many Bangkok denizens came to the city to celebrate, but instead of street food and restaurants, many brought their own cooking gear and ate on the beach.Many Bangkok denizens came to the city to celebrate, but instead of street food and restaurants, many brought their own cooking gear and ate on the beach.

“I think this year things are getting worse and worse,” said Praprai Khuanpu, a food vendor. “Last year I saw many Thai tourists visit Pattaya, but this year it is not crowded.”

The Thai Chamber of Commerce projected less money would be spent this Songkran compared with previous years and surveys found 85 percent of people thought prices were higher this year.

“The economy this year compared to last year is so different … Songkran this year is so quiet,” said Tawin Sadsue, a Dongtan Beach umbrella vendor.

Fellow beach chair vendor Nong Rakkwamdee, 62, said she expected more people from Bangkok to flee to Pattaya for Songkran fun. “This year they have faded away for some reason,” she said.

“In Pattaya 10 years ago, the economy was much better,” said taxi driver Jamnong Muangnoi. “I really miss that time.”

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