Packaged tours down, Europeans up for Pattaya high season

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Pattaya tourism officials say high season is off to a good start, with visitors increasingly shunning package tours.
Pattaya tourism officials say high season is off to a good start, with visitors increasingly shunning package tours.

Pattaya tourism officials say high season is off to a good start, with visitors increasingly shunning package tours.

Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Ekasit Ngampichet said Dec. 8 that while Chinese tourists remain the city’s biggest visitor bloc, he is encouraging by the rebound in European arrivals, which is up 10 percent over last year.

The biggest improvement, however, is the growth in the independent traveler segment. The so-called “FIT” tourists – which alternately stands for either “free”, “frequent” or “foreign” independent traveler – are ones who books their own travel and don’t arrive on packaged tours.

Tourism executives love FIT tourists as they spend more, Ekasit said.

He estimated that 30 percent of tourists in Pattaya this high season fall into the FIT bracket, versus 70 percent on packaged tours.