Pattaya struggles to keep heads above water until foreign tourists return

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Swing Foundation Pattaya sells food at 10 baht per dish to help bar girls, staff, and laborers in Pattaya City. (file photo)

Bar girls are muddling through, former cooks are collecting scrap, and social workers are scooping up the homeless as Pattaya locals try to survive until foreign tourists return.



With the majority of hotels closed and seemingly two of every three businesses shuttered, unemployment in Pattaya remains critical. While hundreds of thousands have left the city to return to rural provinces, some have stayed and hopeful others have returned.

“Annie” is one of them. She came back from Udon Thani to resume work in a Pattaya bar, but found her takings far below what they were before the coronavirus pandemic.

Long food lines continue throughout the city.

She said on Fridays and Saturdays some foreign expats come in, and she gets some money from customers who send money for drinks via the bar’s YouTube livestream, but it’s not enough to support her family back in Issan.

“Wichit,” a former cook at a Chinese restaurant, has it worse. He was laid off months ago after the Chinese tour groups his job relied upon disappeared.

These days he spends his days doing odd jobs and collecting recyclables from trash cans.

Of course, the homeless have it worst of all. Sasikamol Liemruk, director of the Chonburi Protection Center for the Destitute, led social workers and police on a March 25 sweep of Pattaya Beach to pick up vagrants sleeping in doorways and begging for spare change.

It’s difficult to keep social distancing when you’re hungry and food is available.

“Wichit,” a former cook at a Chinese restaurant, was laid off months ago after the Chinese tour groups disappeared. He now collects recyclables to try and make ends meet.


Sasikamol Liemruk, director of the Chonburi Protection Center for the Destitute, led social workers and police on a March 25 sweep of Pattaya Beach to pick up vagrants sleeping in doorways and begging for spare change.