Just when it looked like high season would be a washout, Pattaya’s ship came in.
Thousands of U.S. Navy sailors in Thailand for the Cobra Gold joint military exercise washed up on Pattaya’s thirsty shores, splashing cash around a city where tourism dried up after the Chinese tours left.
Trevor Moss, the U.S. embassy’s assistant attaché for force protection, welcomed sailors from three navy ships and a merchant vessel to Pattaya from Feb. 22-27. They’ll be back after Cobra Gold wraps March 6-10.
Harkening back to when U.S. ships docked within sight of Pattaya Beach, sailors this year came ashore in small boats near the Hard Rock Hotel, rather than in buses from Sattahip and Laem Chabang.
The extended shore leave was a welcome relief for bar and restaurant owners who have seen scores of empty stools and tables since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
Despite their numbers, the fear of the coronavirus kept more sailors in their hotels than normal, so, at least at first, the beer bars along Pattaya Beach weren’t as busy as many hoped.
Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh encouraged the city’s businesses to warmly welcome the Americans and be a good host.