Business leaders tell mayor Pattaya lacks main selling point

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Foreign tourists have lost confidence in Thailand and Pattaya isn’t doing enough to bring them back, a panel of academic and business leaders told Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome during his recent “brainstorming” session on tourism development.

“Pattaya still lacks a main selling point,” said Rungrawee Weerawells, an economics professor at the Thai Chamber of Commerce University. “There may be one, but, at the moment, it’s invisible to tourists.”

“Pattaya still lacks a main selling point,” said Rungrawee Weerawells, an economics professor at the Thai Chamber of Commerce University. “Pattaya still lacks a main selling point,” said Rungrawee Weerawells, an economics professor at the Thai Chamber of Commerce University.

Problems such as violent attacks on tourists by jet ski vendors, pollution and unsightly utility wires only exacerbate an image problem created by insufficient and conflicting promotional information, attendees at the May 1 Pattaya City Hall forum said.

“Pattaya City must resolve the various problems that are destroying the image of the city, such as violence that has led tourists to lose their confidence about their safety in this city,” said Panga Vathanakul, MD of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group. “It has caused Pattaya to lose thousands of tourists per year.”

Itthiphol invited academics, business leaders and representatives from the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, Thailand Hotel Association and Chonburi Tourism Club to brainstorm, suggest, listen to and exchange ideas to help set the directions of a strategic plan on Pattaya tourism.

Guests agreed the city has a lot to offer, but that the political problems and natural disasters of the past three years have put many off about visiting Thailand and city leaders have done too little promotion to prompt their return.

“International markets have lost their confidence in Thailand,” Rungrawee said. “Pattaya must aggressively open its market for foreign tourists by accumulating precise and beneficial information on a the city’s website because, currently, there are plenty of websites filled with information on Pattaya tourism, but the information is conflicting, leading to confusion amongst prospective visitors.”

Panga added the city must do more to promote Pattaya as a destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. “The city is equipped and ready to accommodate this strong current trend of MICE tourism. Pattaya must seize this opportunity before other rival cities do,” Panga said.

Of course, promotion can only help if the city puts forward its best face once tourists arrive, the Royal Cliff manager said.

“The current sanitation issue lacks proper management,” she said.  Tangles of electrical and telephone wires give the city a messy and dirty appearance and “issues like these must be given rapid attention to promote Pattaya as international perfection.”

It was decided at the end of the meeting that all points brought up will be accumulated and research will be conducted for further evaluation.