Top News Pattaya hotels face uphill climb ahead of Chinese New Year By Anne Somanas / Posted on 2 February, 2021 15:27 Although Covid-19 cases have steadily declined since mid-January in Chonburi province, Pattaya’s hotels still face a tough battle to claw back visitors ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. The province’s hospitality industry took a beating after being declared a maximum-control zone at the beginning of the year amid Thailand’s second Covid-19 outbreak. Stigma of the outbreak has deterred travellers from visiting Pattaya although infections are down Despite being downgraded from a Red Zone to an Orange Zone as of February 1, with pubs and entertainment facilities being allowed to reopen and serve alcohol until 23.00, the stigma of the outbreak and media reports about domestic travel restrictions continue to deter many would-be travellers to Pattaya. “People need to know that they can travel safely, and that there are many benefits to traveling now; the hotels are empty, the prices are very good, and the beach in Pattaya is very clean,” said Vitanart Vathanakul, CEO of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group. He doubts Pattaya hotels will be able to pick up significant bookings for the Lunar New Year period, which has been declared an official holiday in 2021 by the Thai government to catalyse domestic travel. “The news that’s been published gives the impression that it’s hard to travel here, which is a pity because otherwise there would be more tourists. I would like people to know that Pattaya has fewer cases now; it’s no longer a Red Zone. You can travel, if you travel with caution,” he elaborated. The mandatory lockdown in Chonburi province has adversely affected Pattaya’s hotels, many of which are empty. Some have opened food stalls on the streets with food from their restaurants to rake in extra cash to pay their staff. Although hotels in Chonburi were issued a forced legal closure order on January 28, to give hospitality staff access to social security funds, hotels with checked-in guests and those who wished to stay open were allowed to do so if they notified the district chief within seven days. “It’s good for the media to urge people to be careful, but the media can also play a key role in encouraging people to travel with caution, using social distancing and safe practices,” said Vitanart, whose hotels remain open and ready to welcome leisure tourists and business events. In Orange Zones, meeting facilities can remain open and events with 300 pax or less are allowed. Vitanart Vathanakul: Pattaya hotels unlikely to benefit from Lunar New Year’s traditional travel peak “If you want to organise a meeting or event, consult your hotel to check on the situation. Many people don’t know that Pattaya has been taken off the high risk category, and that right now people who want to travel here can do so at very affordable prices. That way, hospitality providers gain income and their staff get paid; it’s a win-win situation,” he added. Before Thailand’s second outbreak, the hospitality industry in Pattaya had recovered partially given its popularity as a self-drive destination and also with the support of the We Travel Together domestic subsidy programme.