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Thailand’s Resort Town of Pattaya Becomes a Ghost Town

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Thailand’s resort town of Pattaya, once a mecca for tourists, has been turned into a ghost town by the Covid-19 pandemic that struck in early 2020.  Pattaya city only 26,000 visitors this January, a plunge of 98% from a year earlier.

The latest figures released by the Pattaya office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on Wednesday showed 26,000 visitors stayed at least one night in the city in January. A minute fraction of the 1.5 million in the same period last year.

TAT office director Kajorndet Apichartrakul blamed the 98% plunge on the Covid-19 pandemic that deterred even interprovincial travel and instead kept visitors at home.

The tourism sector in Pattaya relies mainly on foreign visitors, they account for 70% of all arrivals. Russians are among the leading groups of foreign visitors selecting the city as their holiday destination.

The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated global travel, leaving Pattaya city and other tourist destinations in Thailand reliant on domestic visitors.

Pattaya Removed from Red Zone

Mr Kajorndet considered the January numbers abysmal, but he is optimistic the outlook will improve now that the government has eased travel restrictions and plans to remove Chon Buri from the list of red zone provinces representing areas hit hard by the virus.

A dozen provinces are currently flagged red by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

Thailand’s Chon Buri province recorded 655 infections since the new wave of Covid-19 began in mid-December, with only Samut Sakhon, Bangkok and Pathum Thani logging more cases.

The CCSA said on Monday it will evaluate the situation nationwide and consider downgrading the  restrictions currently placed on some provinces. Provinces with more than 50 infections are designated as red zones.

Ekkasit Ngampichet, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, called for the easing of quarantine requirements for inoculated visitors, warning that delay of the decision could drive foreigners planning to visit the city to go to other countries.

Easing of Quarantine measures

The CCSA indicated the government would allow vaccinated arrivals to have a shorter quarantine period than the current 14 days upon entry to the country, starting in October.

All easing measures will be tabled in talks led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha next week.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has launched the state-subsidized We Travel Together scheme to encourage people to travel around the country more to substitute for the absence of foreign tourists. The scheme ends at the end of April, and the Cabinet refused to extend it because of rampant fraud.

Tourism of Thailand figures for February have yet to be released.

Source: TAT, Bangkok Post


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