Far away from the dimmed neon of Walking Street, the beer bars and massage parlors of Jomtien Beach’s Soi Welcome Inn are facing even dimmer prospects.
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While about ten businesses near the intersection with Jomtien Beach Road remain open, many of the watering holes and restaurants at the top of the soi have shut down, some forever.
Australian Simon Brown, from the Welcome Lounge, said he opened about two months ago, but has no delusions about turning big profits anytime soon.
Brown said he didn’t open to make money as much as to bring life to the area. He said only if the street looks open and lively will people come.
So he and other business owners are taking turns staging events to “welcome” people to the soi, such as pool competitions, birthday parties, meetings and charity events.
Staying open also provides a lifeline to employees, he said.
Kanya, a hostess at a Soi Welcome Inn bar, said she and her Issan-native friends are “fighting” to survive, giving it all their effort.
She said they’re not rich and don’t have land or apartments to rent out. Her family has just a small plot of land in the Northeast where they grow vegetables for their own use.
For now, she will stay in Pattaya in hopes foreign tourists return soon. In the meantime, she invited Pattaya expats to come to Soi Welcome Inn for a warm welcome.