The closure of Pattaya’s bars due to the coronavirus pandemic set off a domino-effect disaster, with the economic impact trickling down from bar workers to taxi drivers to food vendors and beyond.
Showing just how interconnected Pattaya’s economy is, Ann, a Walking Street go-go dancer, said she was left unemployed without compensation when Chonburi ordered all bars, pubs and entertainment venues closed last week.
After expenses, she said she has about 2,000 baht to her name. So she plans to head home to Korat instead of staying in “expensive” Pattaya where rent, food, transportation and other expenses require her to make at least 30,000 baht a month.
But with Ann and her colleagues out of work, there are many fewer customers for motorcycle taxi driver Duangden Sangtawan. Working out of a taxi stand near Rungland Village, he made up to 1,000 baht a day ferrying bar girls back and forth from work.
With the bars closed, his income is down to less than 300 baht a day.
With less cash, Duangden has cut back. He’s stopped eating at the restaurants and food stands he used to patronize, instead finding cheap meals to survive on.
Eateries like Chok Chai on Soi Khopai have felt the pinch. While they serve relatively large portions for as little as 40 baht, customers have dried up there and at other small shops.
The government is now talking about economic relief for people and small businesses damaged by measures to control the spread of Covid-19 – in some cases paying people 5,000 baht a month for three months – but bar girls, taxi drivers and other “informal” employees won’t reap the benefits paid to tax-paying formal employees.
For them, it is survival mode until the pandemic eases and tourists return to Pattaya.