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Thai tourism in trouble: And competitor Vietnam is “scary” for Pattaya

Reports from the government that Thai tourism is up were disputed today.  

By the government themselves! As one ministry appears to disagree with another a business leader says that tourism on the ground in Pattaya is much worse than the figures suggest. Whatever those figures are. In fact the outlook is terrible – with Vietnam presenting a “scary” proposition as a competitor for the tourism dollar. Earlier the Ministry of Tourism and Sports had said that tourism was up 0.89% in June year on year.  

Now the National Economics and Social Development Council – a ministerial body – has said that first quarter results in Thailand showed an across the board slowdown in tourism.  From an increase of 4.3% in the last quarter this plummeted to 1.8%. Tourists from Oceania, Europe and the middle east were not coming as expected.  Tourism from China was faring better but was still in decline from 10.5% down to 1.7%. Pattaya business and tourism leader Ekkasit Ngamphichet – who two weeks ago said that tourism in Pattaya was going down the pan – has not changed his mind in a new interview with the Thai media.  If anything he is even more pessimistic than before.  

He said that from his analysis of local businesses it was hard to find any reason to be positive.  He said there were few Europeans. Yes, the Russians had returned in some numbers but it was not a great deal.  The Chinese tourism market was “rather quiet”. Chinese New Year back in February had been a mere shadow of previous years and by April and May there were less and less Chinese – far fewer than could be expected on previous year’s results.  He suggested that the figures coming out of government spin doctors were not being shown on the ground. He described Vietnam as “naa glua” – meaning scary.  He said that Vietnam was increasingly a rival of Thailand for tourist cash. Vietnam has lots of unexplored and new tourism locations and many people are choosing to go there instead of Pattaya in particular and Thailand in general. 

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