Even the most positive of Pattaya residents would have to concede that 2019 hasn’t been one of the best years for Pattaya. Unfortunately, Chinese tourists haven’t come in the numbers that had been hoped for although they have certainly been here en masse and this is definitely expected to continue into 2020. Russians tourists have been returning in 2019, and there is no reason why this shouldn’t again continue in 2020.
2019 has witnessed lots of global uncertainty that has had a negative impact on the numbers of western tourists coming to Pattaya. The strength of the Thai Baht has also hindered the situation making Thailand a relatively expensive place to visit. Long-term residents have also suffered due to the changes made to the Thai Retirement Visa rules. When coupled with the strength of the baht has unfortunately seen many being forced to leave.
However, as we move into 2020, there are lots of positives that we should be looking forward to. Any confusion regarding the Retirement Visa will have passed and after the initial upset and problems that it caused people can now look to move forward. The Thai Baht has probably got to around its plateau with significant changes either way not anticipated by economists or financial analysts.
Other global factors should also be of benefit to Pattaya. Brexit, which has placed so much pressure on Sterling should be completed 31 January with a resolution likely to result in the Pound starting to bounce back. It will make Pattaya more affordable for Brits and making the 800,000 Thai Baht or 60,000 Thai Baht per month required more attainable. In addition, the US Elections are being held towards the end of the year w could provide which could provide a boost for those coming from the US.
Competition from other countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia hasn’t materialised, and what was initially viewed as being a significant threat has died down. Although Thailand needs to be careful not to alienate foreigners further, it would appear that the Kingdom has once again managed to ride the storm. Overall, the threats that hit Pattaya so severely in 2019 appear to have passed meaning that Pattaya, in the short-term at least, can look forward to a bright future at the start of the year.
One thing that has remained a constant in 2019 and moving forward into 2020 has been the confidence of the local developers. After several projects were mothballed around five years ago, many of those plans were resurrected in 2019, and that will continue to be the case in 2020. The developers in this city are rarely wrong and even during the harshest of environments; they have continued to make money with none of the significant players seemingly being too severely affected.
Pattaya has experienced hard times before and has always managed to come out the other side stronger, and that would again appear to be the case going into 2020. We live in a city that is continually evolving and changing to meet the demands and need for visitors. Pattaya has almost reinvented itself in the last decade and would now be regarded as a family destination – a notion that would have been laughed at ten years ago. What appealed in 2018 won’t appeal in 2020 and City Hall and the city, in general, recognise that.
In the last few years, we have seen a whole host of new attractions appear in and around the city. Many of the more modern attractions are drawing new visitors, and this will undoubtedly be the case in 2020. Can we expect new attractions to continue appearing? Of course, we can, that is what Pattaya does. Perhaps we don’t know what they are yet, maybe they have even been dreamed up yet, but one thing is for sure, and that is that there will be something new in the forthcoming 12 months.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) and City Hall are always looking at new ways to boost tourism and the number of visitors coming to Thailand and Pattaya in particular. They have been quick to recognise that there has been a reduction in Chinese numbers and have responded accordingly by targeting the Indian market. Previously, this had been another market r eyebrows raising, but now they are viewed as some of the biggest spenders.
Pattaya has never been a city that has needed to overcome prejudice on any large scale. It is a city where you can be what you want to be, and no one bats an eyelid. It will undoubtedly continue next year and the year after and this is in itself one of Pattaya’s biggest attractions. People want to come here and be themselves, and this is something that they can do without fear or being scared of what others think.
The city has grown rapidly in recent years having previously expanded into East Pattaya and then to the south towards Bang Saray; it is now slowly expanding to the north too. It means that if you want to live or stay close to the “action” of Walking Street or LK Metro, you can. Equally, you can stay in the picturesque village of Bang Saray and take things a lot slower and just relax in beautiful surroundings. East Pattaya offers the best of both worlds, and all these factors combined will mean that Pattaya will remain popular in 2020 and beyond – few places can offer what Pattaya can.
Overall, it would be fair to say that there is a lot of genuine optimism surrounding 2020. The hard times that the city experienced in 2019 seem to have passed without causing too much long-term damage. Indeed, many would argue that it has actually benefitted the city with only the strongest bars and restaurants surviving. The city and Thailand have always endeavoured to increase the quality of the city even if that was at the expense of numbers. Perhaps 2019 was the year that the quality improved and 2020 will be the year that the visitors return in numbers?