The western market in Pattaya has been steadily declining over the last decade or so. The days of the single man coming to Pattaya looking for love on a relatively cheap holiday seem a very distant memory. These people often stopped for several months at a time spending money in local bars, clubs and restaurants. With the attempts to improve Pattaya’s image, a world economic recession and other places being cheaper, these people stopped coming and bars, in particular, started to suffer.
Biggest Problems Today
The biggest problems that Pattaya faces with the western market are the strength of the currency and problems with Retirement Visas. In reality, there is very little that can be done locally about this but it might be worth central government and TAT taking note if they genuinely want to bring back the westerners both as tourists and ex-pats.
Nana Plaza Style Entertainment Complex at The Avenue
Although it has previously been something that the authorities wanted to move away from, there have been plenty of reports in the local press about a bid to purchase The Avenue shopping centre and convert it into a Nana Plaza style, adult entertainment zone. The investors behind the project are Indian with other interests in Walking Street and Bangkok and seem to know what is needed. It will be interesting to see if such a project gets off the ground and if it does, whether it does attract these visitors back.
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Golf and Other Sports
Of course, it is not just the adult entertainment industry that has brought westerners to Pattaya; there has always been a high demand for sporting activities with golf being the standard out option. Pattaya has some excellent golf courses within an hour of the city, and this is something that is well known by locals. Perhaps more could be done to promote this in Europe with packages available during the low season. The courses are already in place and not fully utilised, so this would seem like a win-win situation for all concerned.
Cheaper Alternatives Available
Something that Pattaya perhaps needs to address is the fact that other places offer similar things for considerably less – Cambodia and Vietnam being the apparent alternatives. It is a problem that needs to be addressed in Pattaya is to regain some of its appeals that it once held. Sadly, a commonly used word that you hear across Pattaya is “greed”. While we don’t wish to get embroiled in an argument if this is right or wrong, if it is a common perception, it needs altering.
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More Western Orientated
It is undoubtedly true that western influence in the city has significantly diminished. While this is understandable, it does little to make westerners feel welcome. Venues that are “Chinese Only” are unhelpful just as “Western Only” bars were previously. It would be advisable to make places inclusive and welcoming for all. Yes, places can target specific markets, but perhaps more should be done to make westerners feel wanted again.
Of course, pleasing all the people all the time is nearly impossible, and the efforts to attract Chinese and Indian tourists may be having a negative impact on westerners coming to Pattaya. The city certainly needs to improve its levels of customer service along with the infrastructure with the severe congestion caused by the number of tourist buses being simply unacceptable.
In reality, a series of changes need to be made to try and welcome back the westerners. If adult entertainment does prove to be a success, how will the authorities react? If it is a success maybe it should be contained, meaning that The Avenue seems an excellent idea. Let’s see what happens over the next twelve months.