It would be impossible to suggest that the whole world hasn’t been affected by the coronavirus and most accept that after, things will be quite different. Pattaya has done a lot in recent years to improve the infrastructure within the city, and while there is still a lot that needs to be done, credit should go to City Hall for what they have achieved.

One of the main projects that has been going on in recent years has been the expansion and improvements to U-Tapao Airport, to the south of Pattaya. The airport is also a military airbase but has significantly increased the number of commercials flights that it welcomes each day. There are several daily domestic flights to destinations such as Phuket and Chiang Mai as well as international flights to Malaysia, China and Russia amongst others.

It is anticipated that the airport will provide a significant boost not only to tourism but to business in the area. While Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is excellent, it does get incredibly busy at peak periods with Immigration, both in and out is a bottle check. The fact that the transfer time between U-Tapao Airport and Pattaya is only around 45 minutes is also appealing, especially for those who have already been on a long flight.

The ease of getting to the airport is also a bonus for those taking domestic flights with many leaving from Don Mueang in Bangkok, which can take upwards of three hours to get there on a bad day. This makes a return trip in the day not feasible or practical, probably not a problem for tourists, but a potential issue for business travellers. In addition, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) runs well into Rayong province making transfers times from Bangkok upwards of two and a half hours. This can make the area less attractive to business investors looking to capitalise on the EEC.

When everything starts to return to normal, probably in the latter end of Q3 of 2020, U-Tapao will have had the opportunity to settle down and overcome any teething problems which it may have been experiencing. It should mean that the airport is better equipped to deal with large sways of tourists coming through the airport during the high-season and give them a better first impression as well as an overall enhanced experienced. Potentially, this smooth experience may not have been evident if the airport had been too busy from the outset.

As we get towards the end of 2020, a year that has certainly been a testing one for almost everyone in the world, it would appear that U-Tapao Airport gives Pattaya the perfect opportunity to move forward. Pattaya has always been a popular home for expats working on the Eastern Seaboard, and it has been made even more practical thanks to the excellent air links. Tourists can also get to the city quicker, a huge bonus for those visiting areas to the south of Pattaya such as Bang Saray and Na Jomtien. All in all, despite the storm, there an plenty of opportunities on the horizon.