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Adapt or die, Chonburi tourist attractions chief tells Chinese-obsessed venues

Tourist attractions that catered only to the Chinese market must adjust marketing plans, cut prices and cooperate with rivals in order to survive the loss of Chinese tour groups, the head of the Chonburi Attractions Association said.

President Thitipat Siranatsrikul said Jan. 31 that Beijing’s banning of overseas tour groups to control the outbreak of the nCoV-2019 coronavirus will devastate Thai tourism attractions that spurned western and Thai tourists to exploit the Chinese market.

Already some are cutting costs and curtailing operating hours, she said.

But if Chinese-focused attractions like Pattaya’s Ban Sukhawadee are to survive the crisis, which will last at least three months, they must change their entire approach to business, Thitipat said.

Thais comprised half of the 18 million people to visit Pattaya last year and Chonburi tourist destinations must put more focus on serving the local market, Thitipat said. To do that, they likely have to cut prices, she added.

Attractions also must look to new markets, such as Vietnam, and do more marketing online, she said. Also, Thitipat said, companies must start to cooperate with competitors to offer discounted packages that allow Thai and other new tourists to visit several Chonburi attractions in a day or over several days.

Finally, tourist attractions must accept that virus paranoia is a real factor. To reassure visitors, she suggested attractions install body-temperature scanners at entrances, provide alcohol-based hand-washing gel and face masks, as well as publicize hygienic measures such as regular sterilization of theaters, lobbies and room fixtures.

Thitipat said that while it is up to the tourism industry to shift gears and adjust to the unexpected Chinese ban, the government could also help.

She pointed to the old “Shim Shop Shai” promotion that encouraged Thai tourists to visit Pattaya for shopping, eating and the beach. If that, or another, is revived, that could make up some of the shortfall lost.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand already has a Food & Fruit promotion running in February featuring 60 social media check-in locations in Chonburi.

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