Pattaya tourism pushes cooperation to recover from bad press

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With Pattaya’s overabundance of news outlets and social media’s tendency to blow out-of-proportion even the smallest incident, Pattaya’s business leaders have become hypersensitive to online publicity and have stepped up efforts to ensure everyone from large hotels to the smallest street vendor treat tourists fairly and work to put forward a positive image of the city.

Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand and a Pattaya Business & Tourism Association board member, said a lack of cooperation in the city’s tourist sector has resulted in people thinking of the city negatively and, in recent years, visitors have moved to other areas.

Tourism businesses and entrepreneurs need to constantly keep the city’s image in mind, he said.

Wandee, a beach chair and umbrella vendor on the beach in front of Royal Garden Plaza, said these days she relies more on Thai tourists to survive and by selling food at reasonable prices.Wandee, a beach chair and umbrella vendor on the beach in front of Royal Garden Plaza, said these days she relies more on Thai tourists to survive and by selling food at reasonable prices.

Wandee, a beach chair and umbrella vendor on the beach in front of Royal Garden Plaza, said these days she relies more on Thai tourists to survive and by selling food at reasonable prices.

The Internet, she said, has become a key factor in her business, as online news has become very fast. There must be a way to bring in more tourists, she said, as her current business is not enough to support her family.

Thanet said that Pattaya, like the rest of Thailand, is experiencing a record boom in Chinese tourists. But they have not offset the loss of Russian visitors to the city.

He explained that, because Chinese travel largely on prepaid package tours, the amount of money spent in Pattaya is considerably less than normal tourists. One Russian visitor to Pattaya spends as much as six Chinese he said.

He said Chonburi should work more with tourism officials to attract more tourists from Eastern Europe, which remains a ripe market.

Sanphet Suphabuansathien, president of the Thai Hotels Association Eastern Region, said most Pattaya rooms were booked over the New Year’s holidays and there is little operators could do before April to improve business through discounts or other promotions.

However, he said, hotel operators need to look at prices quarterly to adjust better to market conditions.

He said he expected things to pick up again in early February for the Chinese New Year and again in April for Songkran.

Image, however, remains more important than prices, Sanphet insisted. “If tourists coming to Pattaya are impressed, they will tell others. This could help to create trust and regain a good tourism image.”