Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pattaya maps revival plan

20,000 free roomsfirst big promotion

By: CHATRUDEE THEPARAT
Published: 18/05/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Pattaya is struggling after the April protests that resulted in the collapse of the Asean summit, so local administrators and businesses are stepping up promotions to lure back tourists.

Aforeign tourist jogs on a beach in Pattaya, where MayorItthiphol Khunplome (above) says hotel occupancy has fallen to30-35% this year.

Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Khunplome said the city asked for 100 million baht from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the local administration and private operators to stimulate the industry.

"Before red-shirted protesters forced the cancellation of the Asean Summit after they stormed the meeting site, foreign and Thai visitors were still visiting Pattaya as usual despite the economic recession," said the mayor. "But after the unrest, tourism nosedived, particularly among foreigners."

Average occupancy at the 60,000 hotel rooms in Pattaya has fallen to 30-35% compared with 50-60% last year.

Mr Itthiphol expects foreign visitors will drop by 500,000 this year from 5.5 million in 2008, with revenue falling 17% to 40 billion baht. Thai visitor revenue is forecast to drop to between 600 million and 750 million baht from 1.2 billion a year earlier.

Pattaya City recently set up a tourism committee to work on confidence-building and marketing activities as well as participate in roadshows abroad.

The committee also wants to persuade the government to hold more meetings and seminars in Pattaya.

The first activity his month features a promotion with 20,000 free hotel rooms. Private operators are also offering discounts for entertainment and services between May and July.

For the international market, Thai Airways International and some low-cost airlines will offer special discount packages covering accommodation and air tickets for two or three nights.

From August to January, activities will focus on foreign visitors with a Korean festival, Asean Week, Loy Krathong festival, music and sports events.

The city also backs the upgrading of U-Tapao airport. The Royal Thai Navy has sought 995 million baht from the government to build new parking facilities and a passenger terminal to double capacity.

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