Pattaya is changing fast but Walking Street safe for now

Walking Street is having a post-covid boom.

The news that Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) has brought in 48.3 billion baht in foreign business investment this year alone underpins Pattaya’s future as a holiday destination. The EEC is a huge private-public investment program, led by Japan and China, which is rapidly changing the profile of three eastern provinces, including Chonburi and the Pattaya seaside resort.

Most of the investment has gone into major provincial businesses such as an international logistic service, software development, cargo management, engineering and technology. A five billion Silicon Tech Park, a model for Thai digital cities, is to be built near Rayong, about 30 kilometers from Pattaya.

Although Pattaya is not an industrial center, and never will be, it benefits from the knock-on effects, according to deputy government spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana. The recent surge in tourist arrivals from U-tapao airport is possible because of the new, EEC-funded Rayong-Bangkok motorway. Other local initiatives have been beach reclamation projects, sewage disposal units, port terminal renovation at Bali Hai and Laem Chabang and the transformation of Naklua into a tourist-friendly town.

It has long been rumored that there is an EEC plan to knock down Walking Street and replace it by a family-friendly recreational center and business park. That would be part of city hall’s neo (new) Pattaya initiative to encourage the resort to change its sex-dominated image. However, the boom in post-covid tourist arrivals has put such notions on the back burner as profits surge and lobbyists argue for an extension of drinking hours to 4 a.m.

In any case, some pundits argue that Pattaya already is less dependent on the sex dollar with regular promotions of sports, music and family entertainment. Central areas of the city have been demolished to make way for five star hotels, luxurious condominiums and allied in-house features such as classy restaurants and western-style discos. Walking Street motorbike taximan Suraphan Kamrudee said, “I don’t think anybody will knock down Walking Street. In 10 years’ time, it will still be a reminder of what Pattaya used to be like.”

A Silicon Tech Park is on the way near Pattaya.