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Thailand tries to erase Pattaya’s seedy image

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is attempting to shift the focus towards romance, luxury and families.

The popular Thai beach and nightlife destination Pattaya is in the spotlight again as the Tourism Authority of Thailand tries to shift the focus towards romance, luxury and families, and away from its seedy reputation.

This was the intention at the annual Thailand Travel Mart Plus last week, where Pattaya was the host destination under the theme Million Shades of Romance, held at the city’s Ocean Marina Yacht Club, TTG Asia reports. But not everyone is convinced.

“After two years of positive response in Chiang Mai, we wanted to show the new image of Pattaya and overthrow old perceptions of the city,” declared Thai tourism’s Tanes Petsuwan.

“Pattaya has reinvented itself for upscale travellers, with the Ocean Marine Yacht Club, Cartoon Network Amazone, F&B venues, Ramayana Water Park, international golf courses, etc.”

Pattaya will benefit from the Thai government’s “multimillion infrastructure investment” now underway as part of the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor development plan, he added. Others at the travel mart agreed.

“It’s no longer fair to associate Pattaya as a sex tourism destination. The ‘nasty’ destination image is no longer apt,” said Pathira Nakngam Riley, sales and marketing director at the InterContinental Pattaya Resort.

International events like the Wonderfruit festival, the LPGA golf tournament and the International Fireworks Festival appear to be helping to change perceptions.

Target markets
But Pattaya’s seedy reputation still endures, David Kevan, partner at Chic Locations UK, told TTG Asia, and its new tourism appeal is unlikely to find favour especially among Western high-end tourists.

Pattaya is “for sure” not for families, said Asia DMC’s managing director for Thailand, Andre van der Marck, and families are a key market segment for his company. Instead, with the investment pouring into eastern Thailand, he foresees a huge influx of Chinese into Pattaya.

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