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  • Pattaya eyes reopening

    The lessons learned from Phuket which has led the way in reopening to foreign visitors since July 1, followed by Samui Plus two weeks later, have encouraged Pattaya to follow in their footsteps.

    Pattaya is part of the mainland, unlike Phuket and Samui which are islands and so easier to isolate. That means the "Pattaya Move On (PMO)" initiative has had to come up with stricter conditions for tourists.

    While they are looking forward to welcoming international holidaymakers, challenges remain. The Bangkok Post spoke to the business community and local administration about the reopening process and the outlook for tourism's economic recovery.

    Not quarantine-free travel

    Rattanachai Suttidechanai, Vice Chairman of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, said provincial standard operating procedures (SOPs) including guidelines for inbound tourists are complete.

    Unlike Phuket's SOPs in which foreign tourists are allowed to roam the island upon arrival, even though they have to stay on the island for 14 days before departing to other provinces, the SOPs for Pattaya will require visitors to spend their first three days at an alternative local quarantine (ATQ) before travelling under the "sealed route programme" for another three days.

    From the seventh day, visitors can switch hotels and travel to more destinations but they must use services from tourism operators with the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certificate.

    "Tourists will have more choices from the seventh day, but the key principle is that the staff who provide services must be fully vaccinated," he said.

    Vaccinations are being sped up in districts scheduled to reopen next month to reach a target of 70% of the population, he said.

    The sealed route programmes will reduce Covid-19 risks to residents and domestic travellers, he said while noting locals are considering replacing "sealed route" with other words to make visitors feel less restricted.

    When asked about his hopes for the sealed route programme, Mr Rattanachai said that as long as the local economy does not remain stagnant it is good enough.

    Despite the SOPs and the sealed route programme, there are concerns in the business community about Covid-19's spread linked to the PMO scheme, he admitted.

    However, it is time for Pattaya, bruised by prolonged Covid-19 restrictions, to move forward and preparations are being made to respond to untoward incidents.

    "That's why we came up with "Pattaya Move On." We are not waiting for the pandemic to come to an end. The private sector deserves the credit for making it happen," he said.

    Mr Rattanachai said Pattaya is also pinning its hopes on foreign businessmen attending meetings related to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme which covers Rayong, Chon Buri and Chacheongsao provinces.

    Not a strong season

    Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, acting president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council, said even though October marks the start of tourism season, tourist arrivals are expected to be around 20%-30% of those pre-Covid-19.

    Citing tour operators, he said that only 20% of arrivals are holidaymakers while the 80% are those who have family, businesses or manufacturing investments in Thailand and seek a long-term stay.

    "Pattaya is close to Bangkok and the visitors are most likely to be business operators or investors who want a long stay. If they are Covid-19 free after 14 days, they can travel anywhere," he said.

    As for holidaymakers, the PMO scheme is expected to draw visitors from Russia and some European countries who want to spend their breaks in warm countries, said Mr Thanet.

    However, he said that Russian tour operators see Pattaya's sealed route programme as "restricted" when compared with programmes offered by the Maldives, Egypt and Venezuela, which are Thai competitors for the Russian market. "But I think getting started is better than doing nothing," he said.

    He also said that if Thailand endorses the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, the South Asian country will be a potential market for the PMO scheme.

    Attractive sealed routes crucial

    Pattaya mayor Sontaya Kunplome said even though the PMO is a collaboration between the public and private sectors, the local administration does not decide which operators will take part in the sealed route programme and participation is on a voluntary basis.

    The Pattaya City and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) support the scheme by designating tourism areas and allocating time slots to keep foreign visitors and local tourists apart.

    "The sealed route programmes for foreign visitors are arranged separately and tourists from different groups will not mingle. The tour programmes are mainly natural attractions because curbs on entertainment businesses have not been eased yet," he said.

    Mr Sontaya also pointed out that businessmen taking part in EEC meetings are required to travel under another set of Covid-19 restrictions, which are different from the sealed route programme being introduced for tourists.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Pattaya flooded again, residents vent frustration

      An overnight downpour left Pattaya City's roads inundated on Wednesday, and residents fed up with repeated flooding used social media to complain about authorities' continual failure to resolve the problem.

      The Traffic Police Twitter account and the We Love Pattaya Facebook page reported flooding in several locations, including Sukhumvit Road and streets along the beach in the downtown area.

      Part of the road running along Jomthien Beach subsided and was closed to vehicles, the traffic police network tweeted.

      Regular flooding spots were also under water, including the area near the railway station and roads in Bang Lamung district bordering Pattaya City, according to We Love Pattaya, a Facebook account reporting on the city.

      The heavy rain triggered a landslide at Bali Hai pier, slightly damaging three vehicles parked in the area, according to a parking lot employee.

      Red flags were raised as a warning for all small boats to remain ashore as waves rose three metres high.

      The flooding came as Tropical Storm Conson brings rain to most parts of the country.

      It was the second bout of major flooding in Pattaya in two weeks. Torrential rain on Aug 27 left many roads under water. Pattaya City officials said the Aug 27 flooding was the worst in a decade.

      Residents expressed their growing frustration, venting their anger through Twitter and Facebook, criticising the city administration for its long-term inability to prevent floods.

      "Pattaya flooded again. Thumbs up for the mayor," one sarcastic Twitter poster declared.

      "What the mayor is doing when people are suffering," another wrote on We Love Pattaya Facebook.

      City mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem admitted at a meeting on Friday the problem would not be solved until a 600 million baht drainage system still under construction is completed. That would not be for some years.

      The constant flooding damaged the resort city's economy and its image, he said.

      Anuwat Laothongkham, who is in charge of sanitation and drainage, said downtown areas were flooded by water draining from the eastern part towards the sea.

      The city's sewer tunnels were old and too small to handle the volume of runoff, and land previously used to retain excess water had been built over with housing estates, he said. :

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Thai Tourism Minister visits Pattaya to discuss “Move On” reopening plan, plan to be presented to CCSA this Friday

        The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, visited Pattaya today, September 12th, 2021, to discuss the “Move On” reopening plan for the city to allow in foreign vaccinated tourists without a strict quarantine.

        The meeting, which included the Chonburi Governor and multiple officials from Pattaya and Sattahip, which are the two areas selected for the “Move On” program, lasted over an hour and was to prepare proposal details for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or CCSA, in Bangkok this upcoming Friday, September 17th, 2021. The CCSA would need to approve the plan for it to be allowed to proceed forward as early as October 1st. It would also need approval from the Thai Cabinet, chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha.

        We aren’t going to list every policy or proposal of the Move On plan, other than to state that the basic proposal is the same as we have previously covered and explained. You can read our explanation and question and answers about the plan by clicking here, however, please note it is still only a proposal and could change dramatically when the CCSA debates the plan.

        Newly discussed that was not part of the prior proposal we linked above was if the Pattaya “Move On” program would be part of Sandbox 7+7 plan and include Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Bangkok, Chonburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Chiang Mai. Essentially the discussion was centered around if a tourist would be able to spend seven days in one of those locations and then transfer to another, a final decision on this was likely to come after discussion with the CCSA on Friday.

        The Tourism Minister also stressed that the plan was a “step” and not the full “reopening” of the gates for Pattaya and that they had to take precautions, matching prior statements from the Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Khunplume last week where he stated that true “quarantine free” tourism likely wouldn’t take place until early next year, as the “Move On” plan still has many checks and balances. Under the Move on plan, people would be under so-called “sealed routes” which is a term for essentially tours to approved areas and attractions.

        Finally, the Tourism Minister reconfirmed that the plan would take place and he was confident that the CCSA would give eventual approval to open Bangkok, Chonburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Chiang Mai, although some adjustments and changes to the plan may take place. TPN media notes that each province has slightly different plans based on their own needs and officials but all plans are still only proposals.

        We will give more information after the planned CCSA meeting later this week.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Pattaya comes alive as thousands flock to Koh Lan

          Pattaya City buzzed with tourists on Saturday as thousands flocked to Koh Lan, a popular tourist destination in this resort town, during the three-day holiday period that began on Friday.

          At Bali Hai pier in South Pattaya, both Thais and foreign tourists, arrived in groups to spend their holidays on Koh Lan, a tiny island accessible by a 30-minute ferry ride.

          Around 5,000-7,000 holidaymakers boarded ferries to the island from Friday to Saturday morning. The Pattaya City Municipality and related agencies sent officials to facilitate visitors boarding the ferries.

          Body temperature checks and face masks were required. Those boarding ferries or speedboats also had to wear life jackets.

          At Jomthien and other beaches, the atmosphere was also lively as many holidaymakers spent time there with families.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Pattaya offers visitors a real rockin’ time at the weekends

            The Pattaya Music Festival 2021, which kicks off on Friday, will give travellers a great reason to head to Chonburi at the weekends.

            Afree-for-all musical extravaganza featuring big names from the local entertainment scene will be held almost every weekend until December 11.

            Only 500 people will be allowed to attend, and all attendees are required to present proof of vaccination or negative test results taken no more than 72 hours prior.

            The main stage this weekend has been set up at Central Pattaya Beach, and another two near Dusit Thani Hotel and the Royal Garden Plaza. The Pattaya Beach Road will be closed to traffic from 4pm to 1am on Saturday (November 6).

            Next weekend, performances will be held at Jomtien Beach as well as on Koh Larn’s Nuan Beach.

            The festival will take a two-week break as Loy Krathong will be marked on November 19, and Pattaya’s long-awaited fireworks festival on November 26.

            The third weekend of the festival on December 3-4 will be held at the Lan Poe Naklua Public Park before the festival wraps up on the fourth weekend at Pattaya Beach.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Mayor hails Pattaya Music Festival as success

              The Pattaya Music Festival has been hailed as a success amid strict Covid-19 control measures and was expected to generate at least 100 million baht in the first week, with the entire event predicted to generate over 600 million baht.

              Pattaya City Municipality mayor Sonthaya Klunplome on Tuesday said the Pattaya Music Festival 2021 was well-received.

              The event was held under strict Covid-19 control measures. All attendees were required to be vaccinated with two doses and show negative antigen test results not more than 72 hours old. Singers and their team members were also required to take ATK tests. The festival kicked off on Nov 5, and will continue every Friday and Saturday until Dec 11.

              The strict Covid-19 control measures have boosted confidence among residents and visitors, said the mayor.

              In the festival zone and in areas along Pattaya beach, local residents and tourists who did not want to stand close to the stage could watch the performances on large screens. Seats were arranged with enough space for people to observe social distancing and all must wear face masks.

              Police and municipal staff were deployed to maintain peace and order at the event and in festival zones.

              The mayor said the Tourism Authority of Thailand estimated that the first week of the festival would generate at least 100 million baht. The figure was based on the number of visitors and their stays at hotels and other accommodation in Pattaya.

              The TAT also predicted that the entire festival would generate about 600 million baht, said Mr Sonthaya.

              Hotel operators welcomed the festival and said it was a good way to revive the local economy.:
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • Complete Pattaya Fireworks Festival schedule: Firework times, concerts, sky diving show, and road closure

                The Pattaya Firework festival is scheduled for November 26th – 27th at Central Pattaya Beach with sky diving shows and concerts. There will be FOUR firework displays each night with special lights and sound effects.

                The sky diving shows will be presented by ‘Sky Extreme Pattaya’ in two rounds on both days at 4:30 P.M. and 5:10 P.M.

                6:00 P.M.: Local music band show

                7:30 P.M.: Opening ceremony by the Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunplome

                8:00 P.M.: The first firework show ‘Shining Pattaya’

                8:20 P.M.: The second firework show ‘Believe’

                8:40 P.M.: The third firework show ‘Seasonal Love’

                9:00 P.M.: The fourth firework show ‘Miracle of Heaven’

                9:15 P.M.: Concert from the Mirrr band

                10:15 P.M.: Concert from Paradox

                11:15 P..M End of program

                November 27th showtimes:

                6:00 P.M.: Local music band show

                8:00 P.M.: The first firework show ‘Wonderful Pattaya’

                8:20 P.M.: The second firework show ‘Spirit of Ocean’

                8:40 P.M.: The third firework show ‘Be Together’

                9:00 P.M.: The fourth firework show ‘Happiness is All Around’

                9:15 P.M.: Concert from Getsunova

                10:15: Concert from Paradox

                11:15: End of program

                Pattaya City Law Enforcement noted, “The Pattaya Beach Road will be closed from 4:00 P.M. to midnight on both days.”

                Other rules include:

                -Ban on drones for the general public

                -Alcohol is banned from the event, officially anyways. Food and drink of all kinds are banned from the actual concert areas.

                -Stage and concert areas will require proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 and/or a rapid antigen test within 72 hours.

                -All food/event vendors are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or take a rapid test.

                -Masks must be worn at all times, even on the beach.

                -People must practice social distancing.


                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Pattaya to hold Kite Festival on the Beach this weekend, starting today

                  Pattaya City is all set to hold a Kite Festival on the Beach from November 26th to November 28th, 2021.

                  Ms. Kwanchanok Thana from the Royal Garden Plaza told TPN media, “We will hold the Kite Festival on the Beach from November 26th to November 28th from midday to 4:00 P.M. to support tourism, directly on Pattaya Beach across from the mall.”

                  “There will be more than 120 different kinds of kites soaring in the sky at the beach for the three-day event which will be perfect for people who love pictures and social media.” Ms. Kwanchanok stated.

                  “We are supporting the city after the reopening for international tourists after Covid -19 pandemic restrictions have eased in Pattaya. However, we are strictly following Covid -19 measurements during the event and even on the beach people must wear masks and social distance at all times.” Ms. Kwanchanok concluded.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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