Pattaya business leaders pin tourism hopes on busy Feb.-March calendar

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Pattaya business leaders are hoping a packed calendar of public events will prop up tourism devastated by political protests in Bangkok.

City and regional tourism officials met with the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association Feb. 12 at the Grand Sole Hotel to brainstorm ideas to pump much-needed life into a tourism market that has seen a significant drop from last high season.

Pattaya, in February and March, is hosting the Burapha Bike Week, the 23rd Suphanahong Awards starting at 3pm on February 23 at Royal Cliff Beach Resort, and the Issan Festival 2014 March 7-9.

(L to R) Auttaphol Wannakij, Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay, Sa-nga Kitsamret, PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, and city council members Rattanachai Suthidechanai and Banjong Banthoonprayuk discuss ways to stimulate the economy.(L to R) Auttaphol Wannakij, Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay, Sa-nga Kitsamret, PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, and city council members Rattanachai Suthidechanai and Banjong Banthoonprayuk discuss ways to stimulate the economy.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Auttaphol Wannakij said that Thailand received about 6.5 million tourists from the three nations of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the first quarter last year.  However, this year the Tourism Industry Council of Thailand said that tourists arrivals from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have dropped 7%, about 500,000, in the first quarter of 2014, since anti-government street protests broke out in Bangkok in October. While Pattaya remains relatively unaffected by the demonstrations, the kingdom as a whole has seen a precipitous drop in tourist arrivals.

The PBTA is organizing meetings with Chonburi Province, TAT, Pattaya City Hall and private businesses to brainstorm ideas to restore tourism.

Narodom Sarikbut, advisor to the Burapha Motorcycle Club, which hosted Burapha Bike Week Feb. 14-15, suggested Pattaya organize similar events that attract a diverse group of both domestic and international tourists.