Thailand removed its last Covid-19 barriers Oct. 1, but foreign tourism remains weak in Pattaya.
Boonanan Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, said hopes that foreign tourism would recover in the last three months of this year look to be dashed. At the moment, only Indians, Malaysians and Vietnamese are visiting.
Chinese tours still are prohibited by Beijing and Russians cannot travel due to that country’s invasion of Ukraine. And fallout from the war has sent fuel prices and airfares soaring around the world, discouraging travel to Thailand, he noted.
The PBTA and tourism groups recently took a flyer and held a Thai travel fair in Kazakhstan, but that proved to be a waste of time, as that travelers from that country cannot fly through the war zone and, thus, airfares are too high.
So, for the fourth quarter, Pattaya must continue to rely on Thai tourists, he said.
Boonanan also expressed frustration with the government’s development of U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport. A new terminal was completed there and the government spent more than 600 million baht to make the entire complex a third international airport for the East and Bangkok regions. But, so far, the government has done nothing to make that happen, he said.
The management structure at U-Tapao is unclear and there are questions about security. So, to date, the money for U-Tapao’s redevelopment was wasted. He urged the Transport Ministry and Royal Thai Navy to get their house in order and get U-Tapao fully operational as planned.