We have all seen in both the local and national media that Thailand is actively trying to promote domestic tourism. Indeed, the city’s roads, shops, and many restaurants have been noticeably busier most weekends, with the public holidays bringing the usual mass influx of Bangkokians. Of course, this is a welcome and much-needed boost for Pattaya’s businesses which have been hit harder than most by the pandemic. So, if, as proposed, we have more public holidays, what are the benefits for Pattaya?
Increased Domestic Tourism
Any additional public holidays will only be a boost for domestic tourism rather than international, but this shouldn’t distract from the massive boost that it brings. Local hotels, ranging from cheap rooms and hostels to 5-star hotels, have all reported a significant increase in bookings most weekends. It has resulted in many reaching maximum occupancy, something that they only ever usually achieve at the heart of the high season. Even then, it is only in a good year. Increased domestic tourism has done wonders for Pattaya; many of these benefits are listed below.
As we have often pointed out, Pattaya is a city that for years was shunned by Thais due to its image. While that image was shed around a decade ago, older Thais, in particular, have avoided the place. However, the increase in domestic tourism as a result of the public holidays has heightened people’s awareness of the city, with most if not all coming away pleasantly surprised. Naturally, they then increase awareness by telling their friends, family, and colleagues, who visit Pattaya, causing a snowball effect – something that everyone benefits from.
Helps to Bolster the Local Economy and Boost Business
Public holidays, even in a “normal” year, resulting in a mass influx of people coming to Pattaya, so with reduced rates, a lack of foreign tourists, and a drive to push Pattaya, there is little surprise that more public holidays have boosted the local economy. Indeed, many businesses have reported that their turnover is higher than before, although it should be stressed that these are businesses that target the Thai market. Many bars and restaurants in Central Pattaya or Walking Street have seen no noticeable change.
Helps to Change the Image of Pattaya
Even the most positive and pro-Pattaya person would struggle to argue that Pattaya isn’t still tarnished by its image of the past. Unfortunately, this will take years to reverse completely, but more people will recognize that Pattaya has changed as more people come. Although the infamous nightlife hasn’t disappeared completely, it is far more discrete. Pattaya has a lot to offer everyone, and the perception of the city is now changing, thanks in no small part to the increase in public holidays.
Reduces Pressure on Employers
Many employers, particularly western employers, have tried as much as possible to retain all of their staff which has resulted in many struggling to break even, never mind make a profit. The increase in public holidays has brought some rest bite at least, which has allowed them to plan for the future and reinvest in their business. Of course, this has long-term benefits and will result in a better “product” available for all both now and in the future.
As more people, Thais and foreigners, come to Pattaya, it will inevitably lead to more investment in the city, a win-win scenario. Some of this investment will be by smaller businesses whilst others will be by City Hall. If this investment is targeted correctly and not at “white elephants”, Pattaya has the potential to become the city that it aspires to be. Of course, any increase in investment is only possible if the numbers visiting the city warrant it, and an increase in public holidays will undoubtedly have a positive impact.
It is a point that is closely connected to the benefits that we have raised above, but in the past, Pattaya has only been in the national and international headlines for the wrong reasons. Although many will argue that this is down to xenophobia, in many cases, the criticism was warranted but should have been tempered by the good things the city has to offer. With more shows, events, and attractions aimed at the Thai market, it will inevitably receive some favorable publicity. It is beneficial for Pattaya in a country where “all publicity is good publicity”, which certainly isn’t the case!
It Will Have Little Negative Impact on Expats
For those who care to read some of the well-known ex-pat forums, they will no doubt have read some comments by some ex-pats complaining about more Thais coming to Pattaya. Have these people forgotten that they are guests of Thailand and not the other way around? In reality, the negative impact, aside from the roads being busier, is very little. There is unquestionably an overlap in the places visited by both groups, but in many areas, there is a difference, and in any case, there is room for everyone!
Benefits for the Real Estate Market
It has been well documented that an increasing number of Thai nationals are purchasing property in Pattaya. It is a much-needed boost for a market that has been hit badly by the pandemic. Increased public holidays will make holiday homes more viable and attractive, which again benefits everyone. It is anticipated that this will see many of the projects that have been mothballed starting up again in the near future.
Will it Continue?
Finally, the big question is, can an increase in the number of Public Holidays continue? Thailand already has more public holidays than most countries in the world, so many larger businesses will probably be against any continued increases as it will harm productivity. However, smaller businesses and individuals are probably in favor of a continuation which, after all, seems to be boosting the country’s economy. In reality, we probably won’t see as many holidays going forward as this has been an exceptional year. Still, the seeds of positivity have already been sown, so hopefully, the city continues to reap the rewards.