High season doesn’t officially end for another month, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the sparsely populated beaches.
Recently reorganized beach vendors told to clean their plots and clear out every Wednesday are using quiet times as justification to increase their complaining about having to adhere to rules restricting their private-business use of public land.
They claim customers are complaining about tight walkways from more-closely packed beach chairs and a lack of chairs on Wednesdays. The vendors’ real beef, however, is that they’ve been told to leave the sand four days a month to return nature to the public, which deprives them income.
Officials note the beach is not Pattaya’s only attraction and there are still many good ones, including this weekend’s International Music Festival, Songkran revelry and frequent street festivals.
Some vendors are complaining that this is the worst year for tourism ever.
Thawatchai Ornim, 47, claims this year was the worst of his half-dozen years operating on Dongtan Beach, saying he’s earned less than half his normal income.
Despite steady gains in Thai visitors, he doesn’t believe their numbers will be able to support him during the official low season, which begins May 1.
He says tourists he dealt with never inquired about activities other than the beach and now they’re gone.
“We beach-chair vendors do not make any money from events, but people who operate businesses in town do, especially people who sell products,” he said. “Normally people would celebrate Loy Krathong and New Year on the beach, but the previous years have gone quiet because people would return to their home and celebrate the occasion with their families. Beach vendors near hotels do a lot better.”