The tourism sector in Pattaya is grappling with a waning number of Chinese tourists due to current strict visa regulations and a shortage of flight options.
Mr. Boonanan Pattanasin, the president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA), revealed that the current tourism situation in Pattaya is predominantly centered on Chinese and Indian tourists. However, the number of Chinese tourists has significantly declined in recent months, hindering the city’s full recovery.
This undesirable decline is caused by a number of reasons, including strict visa regulations and a shortage of direct flights from China to Pattaya, he said.
In contrast to popular tourist destinations like Phuket or Chiang Mai, which attract a larger number of Chinese tourists due to their direct flight accessibility, Pattaya has fewer direct flights despite having U-Tapao Airport.
Mr. Boonanan clarified, “Pattaya does have U-Tapao Airport, but the number of flight options remains limited, especially with direct flights from China to Pattaya.”
Mr. Boonanan continued that the group of Chinese tourists visiting Pattaya at the moment is largely comprised of fully independent travelers (FITs). Although FITs tend to have relatively high spending capacity, the city still needs to rely on group tours, which as of now only account for about 40% of the total number of Chinese tourists, and has dropped by over 40% in comparison to the previous low season figure, he said.
The hotel reservation rates for Chinese tourists are also lower during this period. This is because Chinese tourists often choose to stay in villa accommodations, which are reportedly owned by their compatriots, Mr. Boonanan mentioned.
He added, “Chinese tourists are still a major tourist group in Pattaya. Whether they travel in group tours or as independent travelers, these tourists contribute significantly to the local economy.”
Mr. Boonanan and other tourism industry leaders hope Thailand’s new government, led by new PM Srettha Thavisin, reduces the level of paperwork and regulation for Chinese tourists to visit.