Vaccination a marketing tool
Some Pattaya businesses and hotels are promoting themselves this month with the welcome news that their staff are fully vaccinated, soon to be a legal requirement. Although international tourism is still a no-no, the emphasis for the rest of this year will be on domestic tourists, especially from Bangkok. Pattaya was a late starter in the vaccination stakes, but is now making rapid progress. However, only Thais with a local ID card qualify for the jabs, whilst most expats in the former Fun City have now had at least one needle in the arm.
Cheering up the beach
The latest attraction on Pattaya Beach is colorful kite flying, with a commercial eye on the kids in particular. Although the beach is quiet during the week, weekends (if sunny) show a good turnout by Bangkokians who have taken full advantage of the free parking now available on Beach Road. Snacks and soft drinks can be bought by those lounging in the deck chairs, but massages and hawkers have been warned off by city hall officials.
More and more demolition
Large swathes of Pattaya’s main districts are being demolished by bulldozers and replaced by high screens and metal walls. New condos, hotels and entertainment parks await only the go ahead from the civic authorities. Runway 88 on Second Road will specialize in street food from various continents. There is already a Pakistani Airlines 747 parked as the main attraction and enough space for 200 eateries, market stalls and kids’ play areas. If you don’t believe that Pattaya is changing fast and preparing for a very different future, here’s the evidence.
Pattaya and Eliot Ness’ lessons
Dozens of Thais and foreigners have been arrested after defying the no-alcohol-in-restaurants-rule by trusting the word of the owners that pouring their booze into coffee cups rather than glasses was just fine. This ancient and much overdone trick to fool the police only works if the police want to be fooled. At the moment, they don’t. A similar ruse was used in the 1920s in the USA when bright white gin cocktails mixed with egg whites, looking like fresh milk, were on display in the Speakeasies. Eliot Ness wasn’t fooled either.
Texas Chicken expands in Pattaya
New businesses continue to open here and there, especially in the fast food domain. Texas Chicken operated a drive-in at a large garage and fuel station on Sukhumvit highway in Jomtien and has now invested in a smaller take-out on Pattaya’s South Road. In spite of the name, there is an extensive menu and many non-chicken options such as mega-burgers, honey biscuits, curries and even porridge. At the last count, there were 1,700 franchises and company-owned locations in 26 countries.
Sexy Soi 6 waits and waits
Pattaya’s old street haunts stand empty and padlocked after the bars and clubs were forced-closed last spring thanks to the pandemic. Soi 6 in North Pattaya, which has a raunchy history by any standard, has very few open units. We counted only four – the Queen Vic hotel and eatery, a hairdresser which promises to “do” everyone, a snackery and a small store selling tinned food, bottled water and potato crisps. Most of the service girls are back home in northern Thailand. Even if bars are allowed to reopen, it’s far from clear how many padlocks will be removed.
7/11s are still closing
The chain of 7/11 convenience stores has been badly disrupted by the pandemic and more than half have now closed. In early 2020 Greater Pattaya had almost 1,000 units with a total staff of around 14,000 operating on a 24/7 basis. Those that remain now must close during the curfew (20.00-04.00), but report strong sales of beer, wines and spirits for home consumption. Most of the closures have been in areas favoured by tourists in the past, whereas the surviving branches mostly cater for neighborhood Thais in the suburbs. It’s the same story with other convenience store chains.