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Pattaya is still awaiting the resumption of Chinese dollar tourism

There is little evidence that the hotly contested zero-sum vacations have yet returned, despite the fact that some 500,000 Chinese have already traveled to Thailand this year. In Pattaya, they were particularly well-liked before the outbreak.

These are essentially all-inclusive trips that are pre-paid in China before travelling and that primarily benefit Thai-Chinese businesses and nominee establishments that host the tourists by pre-arranging airfare, lodging, and entertainment. Once in Thailand, tourists are frequently under pressure to spend money in designated stores, such as malls or shops selling jewelry and artifacts. 

The Association of Thai Travel Agents claimed that while there was marketing for zero-sum choices in places like Xian, which has direct flights to U-tapao airport close to Pattaya, there was not much evidence of them really occurring just yet. Zero-sum vacations are now around 30% more expensive than they were prior to the advent of covid, with return flights now costing an average of 22,000 baht (US$650).

Over eight foreign flights arrive daily at the extended U-tapao as well, largely from Middle Eastern and regional Russian locations. Chinese delays in issuing passports, many of which expired during the covid pandemic when travel from China was practically difficult, are further causes delaying the return of cheap holidays.

Long lines at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in key Chinese cities indicate that although the majority of Chinese have never had a passport, a rising number of them want one. Another difficulty is the dearth of Chinese-speaking tour guides in Thailand.

This is a sensitive matter because Thais are the only ones allowed to work as tour guides under Thai law. Although it is unclear how vigorously, China has committed to work with Thai authorities to tighten down on Chinese nationals working as unofficial translators. 

But, there is little proof that zero-sum Chinese vacations are starting in Pattaya. For instance, the recently reopened The 79 Adult Show on the resort’s Thepprasit Road frequently gets 20 or more tour buses full of Chinese in the extended parking lot in the early evenings. Although some customers had left their native country on their own, many of them verified they were on one of several pre-planned Chinese packages.

The 79 Adult Show, which was renamed from the suggestive 69 Adult Show prior to covid, is characterized as a “radical” cabaret featuring exquisite females and actors “without embarrassment” employing fake snakes, ropes, and drums. Inside photography and videography are strictly prohibited, and violators will face punishment from on-site security staff.

For non-Asians, admission costs might range from 1,000 baht (US$30) to double that amount. Up to 7 million Chinese tourists are anticipated in Thailand altogether in 2023, with 250,000 expected visiting resorts there in April, according to the country’s tourism authority. Depending on how quickly zero-sum vacations get back on track, that ambitious goal may not be achievable.

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