Hotels absence of occupancy on weekdays in Pattaya clearly reflected the sharp plunge of tourism sector in Thailand. Most of the day and nightlife entertainment venue businesses are struggling to survive. Small scale business operators were forced to shut their operation down for good to avoid greater losses.Similar scenarios are posing death threats at Phuket, Samui and other foreign tourist oriented tourism islands. Pattaya’s most famous must-visit Walking Street, the prime nightlife spot that was for decades bustling with dusk-till-dawn lights and sounds and cramped with tourists, was seen empty and dull.
Pattaya beaches are empty on weekdays. Streets are empty with no tourist buses. Motorbike taxis and baht buses or ‘Song Taew’ do not look busy in picking and sending off passengers. European tourists who are the biggest spenders are not returning to Pattaya yet due to continuation of international air traveling ban. Some of Thailand’s targeted market countries are now suffering from second and third round of pandemic spread. They had to go through a lockdown again. The government and Tourism Authority of Thailand gave hope to the tourism sector on the travel bubble scheme in opening up entry for low-risk countries like China but shows no significant progress up until now. Authorities aimed to draw about 10 million Chinese tourists into Thailand next year with lowered-down health safety guard measures and shorter quarantine period. The idea is yet a pipedream.
The tourism industry in Pattaya, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic since April had forced some investors to halt their monetary injection into the real sector. Some condominium projects launched last year seemed to be going at a stagnant pace. Another major problem for real estate sector was the inadequacy of labor force. Borders to neighboring countries are still closed. Migrant laborers will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine.
More than half of small hotels and guesthouses are closed. The persisting impacts forced small-scale operators to shut their businesses down one after another. Many in nightlife workforce had packed and gone back to their home provinces.
Local operators focused on attracting domestic tourists such as government officials and state enterprises as well as students to travel on weekdays but so far it did not show any distinctive outcome.Spa and wellness centers and other tourism-related businesses were seen closed down again after resuming not long after the lockdown easing. Many of Thai and foreign retailers had tried tightening their strings but could hardly keep their loss-ridden businesses alive. Hundreds of beer bars had to close down.
Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul last week attempted to shorten mandatory quarantine period to 10 days but the cabinet did not agree with proposal. It remains at 14 days. Foreigners voiced their concerns across the online media overseveral loops they had to go through before entering Thailand. Most of them are disappointed with the extended restriction and decided to go to a more relaxed destination. Resurrection of nationwide tourism sees dim hope, clearly ‘no light at the end of the tunnel’at least by the end of this year.
Concerns over allowing international tourists into the Thailand came after the lab resultsthat appeared positive for the virus for some of the arrivals during and after completing the required quarantine period even though they underwent Covid19 testing and carried ‘Fit to Fly’ certificates, the minister said.
Discussion over reduction of quarantine period to 10 days for businesspeople and tourists from low-risk countries are still taking place at different meeting. The minister insisted to maintain general public health safety to avoid the infections second spread even though the continuing 14-day quarantine requirement will affect the reopening plan for foreign tourists.