Can Pattaya Recover From the Lack of Chinese Tourists?

Coronavirus in Pattaya

The impact of the decrease in tourism on Pattaya’s economy has been profound, with noticeable changes in the city’s atmosphere and business landscape. The absence of Chinese tourists, in particular, has been keenly felt, as they constitute a significant portion of Pattaya’s visitor demographic.


The quietness on the roads and the absence of Chinese tour coaches along Beach Road and tourists at Bali Hai Pier are stark reminders of the current situation. While some expatriates may appreciate the quieter city environment, for business owners, the decline in tourism has presented significant challenges. Many businesses, both directly and indirectly reliant on tourism, have struggled to stay afloat, with some forced to close permanently.


The outbreak of the coronavirus has only exacerbated the existing issues, exacerbating the strain on businesses already grappling with reduced visitor numbers. With hotel occupancy levels plummeting to around 10%, even larger hotel chains are facing unprecedented pressure.


These circumstances highlight the urgent need for support and solutions to revitalise Pattaya’s tourism industry and support local businesses. As Pattaya navigates through these challenging times, it’s essential for stakeholders to collaborate and adapt to ensure the city’s resilience and eventual recovery.


The return of tourist groups, particularly Chinese visitors, remains uncertain, despite hopes and expectations. While there’s optimism for their eventual return, past trends suggest that achieving previous visitation levels might be ambitious, especially considering the lower-than-expected Chinese numbers in 2019.


Pattaya’s local authorities have been exploring alternative markets, with a focus on the Indian market, even before the outbreak. However, the shift towards targeting Indian tourists may present both opportunities and challenges for local businesses. The success of this strategy and its impact on the local economy will become evident over time.


The current situation has prompted many British expatriates to reassess their living arrangements, leading some to decide to return to the UK. For those with long-term Thai partners, the desire to bring them to the UK often involves applying for a UK Settlement Visa, allowing them to start anew in their home country.


Overall, the future of Pattaya’s tourism industry and the impact on local businesses remain uncertain. The decisions made by tourists, expatriates, and local authorities in response to the current challenges will shape the city’s trajectory in the coming months and years.


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