The last year has probably been the most challenging of years for any city that relies on tourism, and that has undoubtedly been the case in Pattaya. The bars and restaurants are currently reliant on expats, locals and those coming to the city for short breaks taking advantage of TAT’s attempt to boost domestic tourism. While this has kept many places ticking over, other than for a few exceptions, it has not been enough for long term sustainability.

Thankfully, the government has reduced quarantine to 10 days with a further reduction on 1 July to 7 days for anyone with a “COVID Passport”. A trial will be run in Phuket from this date, when quarantining will be scrapped for those flying direct and remaining on the island. If this proves successful, other provinces, including Chonburi, will follow suit and then most businesses will start to agree that the “old normal” is returning.

Unfortunately, last month’s closing of bars and night venues did little to boost the confidence of anyone planning to book holidays in Pattaya. Quarantining, which was previously effectively 16 days, made it almost impossible for the regular visitor to come. While 10 days is better, it is a significant part of most people’s time in the country, with Pattaya previously famed for its “Two-week Millionaires”. While they may have been the butt of many jokes, they were definitely welcomed by many local businesses.

So what are the benefits of reducing the quarantine period?

The reduce quarantine sends out positivity signals

With so much negativity and bad news surrounding the long-term prospects of tourism globally, news of a reduction in quarantine times will surely be welcomed by those looking to visit Thailand. Previously, people had refrained from booking considering the quarantine period too long, especially if they were also required to do the same on their return. Reducing the quarantine period means that people can now start to plan their holidays, if not immediately, then from the start of July.

An increase in visitors

Of course, the reduction of quarantine will make it more practical for people to come, which will naturally see an increase in visitors. Hoteliers, restaurant and bar owners need to be realistic about how many will come immediately, but it will inevitably see an increase with brakes now being taken off. The new Special Tourist Visa (STV) and the 60-day Tourist Visa also mean that tourists maybe stay longer than they had previously planned. Work and other commitments will determine if this is realistic, but it is grounds for optimism.

Business will start to pick up

A natural consequence of more people coming will be that businesses start to do more trade. Restaurants will almost certainly be the biggest beneficiaries, with bars not far behind. Again, a sprinkling of realism is needed initially, but it may be the difference between making a loss and making a small profit. We have believed for a long time that a cull of underperforming bars and restaurants would be a good thing long-term, but there are limits to how even the strongest can survive with minimal revenue.

The entire economy benefit, including real estate

As trade does start to pick up, they will need to employ more staff, and there will start to be a snowball effect benefiting the local economy. Of course, this will be slow at first, but as more tourist return, the more people will be employed in the city. The real estate market will also benefit as we are indeed in a buyers’ market at present. Several projects have been mothballed but are anticipated to resume with confidence returning to the market. With the baht being weaker than it has been for a while, now would be the ideal opportunity to invest.

Is it an opportunity to reach out to “quality tourists”?

We have heard for the last decade that Pattaya wants to attract “quality tourists” rather than look to the masses. While everyone has an opinion on whether this is realistic, it may be the opportunity that the government has been waiting for to trial their plans. With restrictions currently heavily in place, it would be possible to make allowances for specific groups, although there is undoubtedly the potential that this could cause acrimony and go horribly wrong! However, now is almost a “now or never” moment if the government wants to forcibly change Pattaya’s demographic rather than letting it naturally evolve.

Thais have seen Pattaya in a different light

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and that has been true with regards to the number of domestic tourists who have visited the city during the pandemic. For many years, Pattaya had almost become a “no go area” for Thais, who tended to look down on Pattaya, associating it solely with sin and debauchery. However, those who have visited see the city have far more to offer and realise that the negative press wasn’t justified. Retaining this level of domestic tourism will be difficult going forward, but it is something that City Hall must try to do.

Greed needs to be avoided

Sadly, there needs to be an element of caution regarding the return of tourist. As the green shoots start to grow, it is vital that greed, as so often been the case in Pattaya, doesn’t take over. The city needs to be nursed back to health, and there needs to be a realisation that most people have been hit financially by the pandemic. If tourists start to feel “ripped off” or “taken advantage of”, all the good work done by so many can quickly be undone.


A reduction in quarantine times will, of course, make Pattaya more accessible to more people, which can only be a good thing for a city that has been on a life support machine for months. By this time next year, there appears genuine hope that things can get back to how they used to be. Patience is perhaps the key, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in a long time.