Thailand has made a healthy rebound from the dip in tourism during the political unrest of recent years and the disruptive closing of Suvarnabhumi airport by the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Since then, the number of tourists visitingThailand has increased every year. Pattaya has been part of that healthy growth as it revamps its image as a “City of Variety” to offer a range of activities besides just visiting the beach.
Pattaya today reached a major turning point again, when Lord Mayor Ittipol or “Prime Tick” launched the plan to power Pattaya toward an EC area based on the philosophy of a sufficiency economy.
City development plan relating to the AEC
According the mayor, the Pattaya city administration in the next four years needs to join forces in the new “Pattaya Agenda” that adopts a long range view of the sufficiency philosophy of H.M. the King, to develop Pattaya and Lan island in a secure way that balances growth with existing resources while supporting the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in the next two years.
How to develop on the principle of sufficiency
For Pattaya, the philosophy of sufficiency involves planning for the opening of the ASEAN community by preparing the youths and residents of Pattaya through knowledge and education of sufficiency principles and how to implement them effectively. The city is prepared to spend 20 million baht to use for planning and preparation of residents and young people with the goal of being ready for the economic impact of the opening of the ASEAN community.
The project will involve providing the basic information present to residents to know what the ASEAN is, and to evaluate the pros and cons of its effects, including awareness to be ready to meet the competition both within and outside Pattaya as the result of the increased economic activity.
Moreover, the sufficiency would include establishing the “Pattaya Brand” among people involved in the tourism industry, and to market the Pattaya Brand to tourists to bring in revenue and continue to create sustainability in the community.
Pattaya today has the advantage of being a known commodity as Thailand’s biggest beach resort and being relatively close to Bangkok. The two factors are major selling points to creating a strategic advantage in the ASEAN market, which would include providing services and products that encourage visitor spending and satisfaction and adding more value to Pattaya tourism.
Meanwhile, the organizations of Pattaya should be developed from the interior government to improve various services for the tourists. This would include adjusting the visitor sites to have more languages such as Russian, German, Chinese, Japanese, as well as including a call center and improving the quality of computer and security system networks in government.
Who to develop in long term
In the long term, to build the sustainability of the AEC in Pattaya, instead of being insular, the city would foster an openness to encourage spreading of knowledge and skills, and for entrepreneurs and professionals in Pattaya to use their advantages and opportunities to open hotels in other countries, or perhaps open other businesses like cooking schools, hair salons and art galleries.
In keeping with the mission to ASEAN to foster economic growth that benefits everyone, the city would freely provide knowledge about ASEAN and develop the base of confidence and the potential for competition, and extend the business model of collaboration and healthy competition outside of Pattaya and Thailand to start and continue businesses in foreign countries.
The most pressing issues that need addressing
The inadequate infrastructure is the most pressing problem, and obviously is not keeping up with the continued growth of Pattaya. The real estate and building industry in Pattaya continues to grow with no end in sight.
A critical factor in keeping Pattaya sustainable as a livable city is managing the traffic system. The city currently has researchers to analyze the new possibilities of traffic patterns and making adjustments, such as conversions of streets from one-way to two-way roads, or by synchronization of traffic lights and other improvements to handle the problem of holiday and rush hour traffic jams. Improvements must also be made in the security system, and handling of road emergencies.
Can the current infrastructure support the growth of Pattaya?
Presently Pattya’s traffic is admittedly quite dense and quite a troubling issue. However, there was recent good news from the government on the design of high-speed rail system from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya.
Expected to be implemented within five years, the city administration has studied the building of an electric tram network to connect to the high-speed rail, which will be a major improvement to Pattaya’s transportation issue. The way to start addressing traffic problem today is by discipline, and making improvements where possible, such as improving efficiency of tunnels and the bridges.
Regarding Pattaya’s electricity and water supply, the city has prepared for the anticipated demand in the next 10 years, and has added a sub-station power plant for electricity. For the water supply, treatment plants and water supply plants will add more 120,000 cubic meters.
How to improve the existing transportation system?
The city will organize services to be more appropriate, but won’t be canceling the exisiting motorcycle, pick-up minibus, or taxi networks.
What is the ideal Pattaya in the AEC age?
Pattaya aims to increase the tourist visitor number to 10 million in a few years, and the city will accordingly have more than 70,000 rooms to accommodate tourists. Another target goal is to increase the individual income of tourism industry workers, from 3,000 baht daily, to a 3,500-4,000 baht daily average income.
This would also involve creating conditions allowing more entrepreneurs offering a higher level of services and products that would allow them to increase prices and hours of operations to maximize revenues.
The mayor expects the AEC opening to bring 10% more tourists initially. The latest related developments include announcements by three investors who plan to open world-class water parks, the Cartoon Network, Ranayan, and a grand Water Park and a Pattaya Park. There would also be a new aquarium, a traveling cruise boat, and major film investment by a studio.
Pattaya as “The City of Definitely More”
Pattaya is marketing itself with the brand of “the City of Variety.” After the opening of the AEC, what would Pattaya be the city of?
Pattaya will remain the City of Variety but the city administration will advocate the fresh concept of “We are more than you think.” Pattaya will also be “the City of Definitely More,” and the identity of the city of Pattaya is clearly tourism.
Pattya has all levels of the visitor experience to offer tourists, from luxury 5 star hotels, to adventures, or marine and natural attractions. So in the year 2013, it would be reinforcing the brand’s image to market Pattaya to the tourists from the target countries that have the potential to spend the most money.
The target marketing would be done through channels and activities from local entrepreneurs to the tour agency, from local to worldwide, and also using online channels to link the entrepreneurs in an alliance to form agreements to join with the tourism towns and cities in local and world class regions, to encourage and build confidence to tourists to decide to visit Thailand.
This encompassing marketing effort would involve the cooperation to develop the products and services to build the links to all the attractions in Pattaya.