Reader Submission (Opinion)
I, like many others, read the opinion article from yesterday. I understand that it is good to remain optimistic but there are too many other factors that come into play to just say Pattaya is going to open up quickly or slowly.
The first thing people need to understand, is that Pattaya may re-open but who has any money for travelling after being locked down at home for months of no work? Millions of people around the globe are currently unemployed or furloughed due to the virus, do you think they will be flying back to Thailand when the airports re-open? Or will they be back at work catching up on unpaid bills?
Airline companies are hurting just like every other company in the world. When they re-open, you can almost GUARANTEE that the ticket prices will be astronomical. Add to that the fact that to get to Thailand now requires a medical certificate to state that you do not have COVID and the cost of insurance and you are now paying way more than you would for normal trip to the Land of Smiles.
Pattaya will become SOMETHING, sure. It is highly doubtful that it will go back to the way that it was before without time, however. Until there is a vaccine available for the people that are too terrified to go to the hospital to get tested, chances are many people will stay in their houses due to the fear behind the virus.
The exchange rate in Thailand and prices of services and accommodation was already terrible prior to the virus and a topic of much angst for those of us that live here full time as well as with frequent visitors. Over the past 10 years, Pattaya has doubled and tripled prices of services in certain areas and tourists have taken note and started planning holidays in other, less expensive countries.
Thailand has just extended the curfew out for another month. We have already seen Thais (and in some cases a Farang here or there) lining up daily to get free food handouts because many cannot afford to eat as it is. Add another month onto that and those same people may be in for a world of hurt. What is going to happen when the good Samaritans handing out food simply don’t have the finances to do it anymore? It may be too late by then for anyone here to be able to bounce back. There is no point having tourists if there are no businesses anymore.
No businesses? Yes, believe it or not there are some people out there who do not realize that it takes money to run a business. If there is no business for another month, there is no money for another month. If there is no money for another month, there may not be a business for long at all. Rent, water and electric all require money to keep them on. We are going to see many businesses that never open again unfortunately.
The Chinese tourists will not be back until at LEAST October. Every time you hear about China being better, more stories about people getting infected start circulating. Chinese are also not free from the health certificates required for travelling into Thailand. That requirement will have to be removed for them to even begin to come back this way.
Pattaya and Thailand cannot begin to heal until the western countries do. I have a feeling once America figures out what they are doing, other countries will shortly follow suit. Until then, we are all standing by to stand by for a possible maybe.
The businesses that survive the lockdown will make money again but it will more than likely not be anywhere what they were making a few months ago (which was already barely enough to skim by for some). Expats that call Pattaya home will return to the restaurants and essential facilities but have you looked around? Expats in the city are few and far-between at the moment. They have either gone home, or they are hiding “safely” in their rooms. Even when they can come out again they won’t venture far from home unless they NEED something for the first few months of the city opening.
There are a million other reasons why it is going to take a significant amount of time for things to get back on track. If we cover all of them this short opinion article will become a novel to rival The Odyssey.
Prior to the virus, Pattaya was a ship trying to stay afloat. The ship now has quite a few more holes in the bow and is sinking at a rate that may be hard to recover from. Being optimistic is good but one must remain realistic at the same time. Thailand may recover. Pattaya may recover. It will take years to do so, however and they will likely be doing it with far fewer western tourists.