Future of Pattaya’s Walking Street is “assured”

Parts of the Walking Street are almost back to normal with outside maidens galore and a plethora of security staff. (Photo by Bob James)

Pattaya’s most famous street is not scheduled for knockdown according to mayor-elect Poramet Ngampichet. During a tour this week of the never-ceasing repavement and cable- burying areas, he said that Walking Street was an essential part of the resort’s tourist future. Mr Poramet represents Rao Rak Pattaya (We Love Pattaya), the favoured political party of the outgoing mayor Sonthaya Kunplome.

Meanwhile, the president of the eastern chapter of the Thai hoteliers’ association, Phisut Sae-khu, is campaigning for all nightery entertainment centers to reopen without the restriction of midnight closing which will continue after June 1, even though most other anti-Covid rules are being waived or ignored. However, such licensing decisions are outside the hands of the Pattaya mayoral office and require the intervention of national government or the Chonburi provincial governor, or both.

At any rate for now, plans to re-orientate Walking Street into a leisure paradise for families with theme parks, classy restaurants and new shopping arcades appear to be taking a back seat. Before and during the Covid pandemic, Pattaya authorities had suggested that the resort’s future might resemble Miami, Singapore or Abu Dhabi in which business centers lie apparently side-by-side with leisure pursuits, though not necessarily of the horizontal kind.

There had also been suggestions that the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a multi-billion US dollar agency of both Thai and foreign investors, might fund a wholesale “family” redevelopment of Walking Street to complement the neighboring Bali Hai port facilities which have benefitted from external funding. Various beach reclamation projects and transport improvements, including ring roads and motorways, are also EEC projects.

However, there is a growing consensus that Pattaya must rely on traditional tourist markets after more than two years of a spellbinding, ghost town image. The war in Ukraine and the ongoing absence of the overseas Chinese market has doubled-down on this feeling that Pattaya needs to walk before taking up running. However, City Hall stresses that Pattaya has already progressed from its Sin City image of the last century. There are now five star hotels and malls to rival Bangkok’s, important niche markets such as MICE (conventions, exhibitions etc) and far more family-friendly facilities. As Bernard Trink would say, Nuff Said.

Soi Buakhao is a Pattaya nightery alternative, including the bars and clubs of popular Soi L.K. Metro.