The 3.5-kilometre-long Na Jomtien beach in Pattaya City is expected to fully reopen to tourists in 2025 when the iconic beach is fully fortified by sand fences in a coastal erosion prevention project initiated in 2020.
Construction of the 50-metre wide sand fences along the first 800-metre section of beach stretching to the south of Soi Na Jomtien 11 ended last week.
The second phase of construction has now begun and is expected to end in November 2025, said Sompong Jirasirilert, deputy director-general of the Marine Department.
The northern section of the beach where more sand fences are being built extends to Pattaya Water Park, north of Soi Na Jomtien 11.
Starting in 2020, the erosion prevention project was implemented as an urgent task after erosion had become serious enough to threaten the popular beach and tourism in the area, Mr Sompong said.
Coastal erosion at Na Jomtien beach had resulted in it shrinking by about 60 rai in size between 1976 and 2015, which pointed to the need to take serious action to tackle this problem, he said.
“If the problem had been left unresolved, the entire beach would have vanished,” said Mr Sompong.
In that event, the area would lose valuable tourist income, not to mention the natural beach attraction itself.
The department hired Chulalongkorn University and Kasetsart University to jointly inspect the erosion and design a prevention method, he said.
A feasibility study conducted as part of the project found that every 1 baht in budget spent on funding the project would yield 3.5 baht in economic value, Mr Sompong said.
Before the project was approved, three rounds of hearings were held to gauge public opinion about the project.
The first round of hearings was conducted in March 2015, the second in September that year and the third one in September 2016, with participants at these hearings who approved of the project ranging from 84.2% to 96.8%, he added.
Aside from helping protect the landscape, the sand fences are also thought to help improve the beach’s ecosystem, which will help Pattaya’s tourism and related industries in Chon Buri, Mr Sompong said.
Pattaya ranked the eighth most popular tourist destination in the world in 2022, according to online travel booking platform Agoda.
While still struggling with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pattaya in 2019 attracted about 5 million domestic visitors and about 2 million Chinese tourists, as well as travellers from Russia, India and South Korea, generating some 300 billion baht in income, said Pattaya mayor Poramet Ngampichet recently.
Between January and April this year, the beach town welcomed 3.8 million visitors, mostly Thais, partly due to the government’s “We Travel Together” hotel subsidy scheme, creating income of about 22 billion baht. – Bangkok Post