Pattaya, like many other resort destinations, has its typical high and low seasons. Naturally, the weather has a big influence on these seasons with the start of the cool season, a period where there is also little rain, signifying the start of the high season. This is usually at the start of November with hotel prices generally rising on 1 November. The tradition end of the high season used to be the start of May after the Songkran celebrations had been completed.
However, in recent years some hotels have opted to offer the low season prices in February due to falling demand in some areas suggesting that the low season could be getting longer. This is perhaps hard to quantify as the number of tourists coming to Thailand and Pattaya is increasing on an annual basis although the type of tourist and their nationality has changed quite notably over the last five years.
Western tourists, typically from Europe and the US, often used to come and visit Thailand for a few months at a time avoiding the cold in their home countries. However, there has been a noticeable decrease in this pattern with many real estate agents seeing a drop in demand for long-term rentals, 6 or 12 months and an increase in the number of short-term rentals, typically for around a month. The legalities and the whys and wherefores of this are something that could be discussed in another article.
Around 5 years ago, the vast majority of tourists coming to Pattaya were from Russia and the former Soviet block but the collapse of the Ruble saw visitor numbers decline almost overnight. This impacted the tourist industry hard with the extension of the low season becoming more evident. These groups are now starting to return again but their numbers still fewer than of those previously experienced.
At the time when the number of Russian visitors was declining the city saw a large influx of Asian tourists, mainly from China. This has been a large factor in the number of visitors increasing on an annual basis but their behaviour in terms of the activities that they take part in, the places where they stay and visit being significantly different to that of western tourists.
Asian visitors tend to be part of organised tour groups with only a relatively small percentage choosing to arrange their own travel plans and travel alone or as part of a small group. It was recently reported in the Bangkok Post that the average vacation money for a tour bus tourist is just 20,000 baht.
The time that these tourists spend in the city also noticeably less. Very few stay for longer periods with the vast majority staying for just a few days at a time. Again, the majority, tend to stay in hotels as opposed to condominiums which has resulted in an increased number of hotels being constructed, a trend that seems to be showing little sign of subsiding. At the same time, the number of condominiums being launched has also reduced although high-end buildings still appear to be in high demand.
Some options of short term stays in Unixx condo, great location near the city’s attractions
The fact that these groups are still coming in larger numbers suggests that the low season isn’t getting longer in terms of the numbers of visitors. However, as the demographics have changed many businesses have been adversely affected. Many western-style bars and restaurants have really felt the pinch, with the footfall from western tourists dropping. June is always the worst month of the year for bars and restaurants although generally March until October would be classed as the low season.
One question that is frequently asked by many outside observers is “Do Asian visitors care about seasons to the same degree as western tourists?”. This is again quite a contentious point with the typical low season still attracting many people from this group. There are potentially a number of reasons for this such as the reduced hotel prices and deals to be had on some of the attractions that they tend to visit. This once again suggests that the low season isn’t getting longer.
So, is there anything that can be done to alter the trend with regards to western tourists? This is again a subjective question as evidence suggests that western tourists are still increasing although some may actually question this. The strength of the Thai Baht compared to major western currencies means that coming to Thailand is no longer viewed as a cheap option. The restrictions on visas and Thailand’s emphasis on “quality tourists” has also possibly resulted in other countries being visited during Thailand’s official high season.
When you consider all the events that take place during the traditional high season you genuinely feel that there is enough to attract visitors to the city. At the start of the November, you have the Loy Krathong celebrations and Long Boat races at Mabprachan Lake. The festive period and New Year is always a busy time with many choosing Pattaya as their ideal destination to enjoy this time. Songkran is again, as mentioned, a popular time with tourists of all nationalities.
One area that has benefitted from the shift in demographics connected to the real estate industry is when it comes to investment properties. A number of developers are now offering properties that are designed specifically for investment purposes rather than for sale to the end user. Guaranteed rental returns are offered in return for the building managers being able to rent out your property to tourists short term thanks to them having hotel licenses. Many such developers are reporting a high occupancy rate in both the high and low seasons again dismissing the notion that the low season is getting longer.
To conclude, it is the change in demographics that has had a huge impact on the visitor numbers in Pattaya. Without doubt, the number of westerners visiting for long periods has fallen, thus extending the low season for these groups. This has adversely affected bars and restaurants along with some, but certainly not all, areas within the real estate sector. Hotels, shopping centres and many of the tourist attractions have actually benefitted. So in reality, the low season isn’t longer in terms of visitor numbers.
Next to Dongtan beach, we can find units in View Talay 5 for midterm stays