The private sector in Pattaya is concerned about the impact of a documentary that has amplified the image of the city as a sex tourism destination. The documentary, published by Deutsche Welle (DW), has been blocked in Thailand.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), expressed her worries, citing a similar incident involving sex tourism in Pattaya that occurred in Germany about 20 years ago. During that time, tourism from that market significantly declined, leading to a loss of confidence in the destination.
Mrs. Marisa emphasized the need for improved law enforcement, as this has been a longstanding issue in Pattaya and other Thai destinations. The aim is to address the problem of illegal sex workers. Although Pattaya has diversified its tourism offerings, catering to families and the Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) segment, eradicating the perception of the city as solely a sex tourism destination remains challenging.
Mrs. Marisa, who also owns three hotels in Pattaya, suggested several solutions that the local administration and private sector can implement. These include consistently promoting alternative activities and attractions, gradually shifting the focus away from sex tourism.
Pattaya is known for its diverse range of attractions and its ability to cater to various segments, regardless of nationality. It boasts local communities like the Takhian Tia tourism community, as well as convention centers, an airport, and proximity to the upcoming Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project. Mrs. Marisa emphasized the importance of proper entertainment zoning to prevent disturbance to families and other visitors not seeking nightlife activities, suggesting that late opening hours until 4 am should not be applied to the entire province.
She also stressed the need for the city to maintain the quality of its infrastructure, particularly with regard to environmental concerns such as wastewater treatment systems. As Pattaya has its own budget and tax collection abilities, investing in upgrading public infrastructure would be beneficial for the city in the long run.
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