After the lockdown measures were eased in early June, popular tourist destinations were soon crowded with local visitors. According to CBRE, a leading international property consultant, the short driving distance from Bangkok, the existing amenities, the well-developed infrastructure are among the key factors that drive high number of check-ins to Pattaya as people are still cautious of air travel despite serious health and safety measures implemented by airlines.
To further boost domestic tourism, the government have issued stimulus measures known as “We Travel Together” where the government will subsidise up to 40% of accommodation or a maximum of THB 3,000 per night and plane ticket costs starting from July to October 2020. It is expected that the second phase will include extending the time for the accommodation subsidies from 5 nights to 10 nights and airfare support from THB 1,000 to THB 2,000 per person.
CBRE Research pointed out, based on the number of check-ins reported by Fiscal Policy Office, Ministry of Finance approximately 15 days after the campaign was launched, Chonburi province was the most popular destination due to two well-known beaches, Bangsaen and Pattaya, with up to 14,000 hotel room check-ins, accounting for almost 17% of the approximately 85,000 total check-ins, followed by Prachuap Khiri Khan with 8% of the total.
In the past years, the number of visitors in Chonburi was correlated strongly with Pattaya’s, with more than 80% of Chonburi’s visitors also going to Pattaya. In addition, the number of foreigners made up more than 50% of the total number of visitors in Chonburi from 2016 to 2019. However, changes are expected in 2020 from the impact of COVID-19 when the tourism market shifts toward local demand.
Pattaya is one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations for both Thai and international visitors in equal proportion. On the other hand, Bangsaen has long been dominated by locals with Thais comprising up to 95% of its tourists. The Bangsaen market will continue to be fuelled by locals post-COVID-19 as seen by heavy traffic after months of lockdown to the point that the local authority had to temporarily shut down the road leading to the beach to reduce overcrowding.
CBRE Research also reports that Pattaya may be slow to return to its pre-COVID-19 level since more than half of its tourism demand came from international tourists. Despite a decrease of foreign visitors, Pattaya can still serve a wider range of local demand from affordable beach destination up to a luxury getaway, as seen from higher spending expenditure at approximately THB 3,900 per person per day in Pattaya compared THB 2,400 per person per day in Bangsaen based on statistics from Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
In terms of residential and resort home markets, Pattaya is one of the top choices for residents who look for a second home with sea view in resort destinations. In addition to existing amenities such as international schools and hospitals, CBRE Research sees the city’s decent potential for future growth as the area benefits from infrastructure developments like U-Tapao Airport, the motorway, high-speed train project connecting three airports, as well as EEC development schemes from the government. In summary, the city will become more easily accessible and attractive to both investors and tourists once the government lifts the ban on international flights. Pattaya, therefore, is on its way to becoming Thailand’s wholesome beach town after the economic recovery.