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Pattaya Hoteliers Panic as Chinese Tourism Fizzles

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PATTAYA – Hoteliers in Pattaya are urging the government to step in and help following a 60% slump in Chinese tourist arrivals in the resort city in recent months.

Suwat Phaepiromrat, president of the Pattaya Hotel Club, said that between July and October, many hotels suffered from a steep fall in revenue.

This has hit the industry harder than in 2016 when authorities started clamping down on so-called “zero-dollar tour” operators, he added.

These are cheap package deals that see tourists pressured into buying overpriced goods and services from selected outlets woven into their travel itineraries.

The drop in Chinese tourists to Thailand was triggered by several events including the capsizing of the Phoenix off the coast of Phuket on July 5, which caused the death of 47 Chinese passengers. In September, a Chinese tourist was filmed quarrelling with a security guard who subsequently hit him at Don Mueang airport.

The government then said it would waive fees for visas on arrival over the next two months for visitors from 21 countries, including China.

However, Mr Suwat said that alone would not drag the industry out of its mini slump.

“More measures must be devised to deal with the crisis as it is serious,” he said.

He was speaking after a meeting of tourism operators associated with the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association on Thursday. Promotional policies to woo back tourists from China were among the issues discussed.

The association said Chinese have lost confidence in Thailand’s ability to guarantee their safety.

The acting chief of the Chon Buri Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports, Ampai Sakdanukuljit, said more than 14.6 million tourists visited Pattaya last year, generating revenue of 230 billion baht for the city.

The city earned 180 billion baht in the first nine months of 2018 from 12.3 million tourists. Chinese dominate its tourism market followed by Russians, South Korea, Indians and travellers from the Middle East.

Ms Ampai said urgent measures were needed to restore Chinese tourists’ confidence.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said its five offices in China are working to promote Thailand.

By Chaiyot Pupattanapong
The Bangkok Post