More bad news for Pattaya

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Yes, the Pattaya plan to open the city to foreign tourism in September is postponed, no future date given

By Goong Nang(GN)

10 August 2021

The plan to open Pattaya City to foreign vaccinated tourists on September 1st has been officially postponed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Worse, the TAT is unable to provide even a guesstimate of when the city will be able to relax restrictions and reopen its economy, devastated by Covid-19 regulations and measures.

The Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunplume told local media, “The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has postponed the reopening plan of Pattaya and several other areas, such as Hua Hin, for foreign tourists with no firm future date set.”

This news, although unfortunate, is not a surprise to many readers or business owners who have now been closed for four months as of today, August 10th, 2021. The closure of Pattaya’s main economic driver, their bars, nightlife, entertainment, cinemas, amusements, most hospitality, and tourism attractions was ordered on April 10th of this year. Other than a few slight easings since then (which were then reversed and reclosed, like massages and gyms), most venues have remained closed. Currently, the city and province of Chonburi is a maximum control zone and even beaches, parks, pools, malls, restaurants for dine-in, and more are all closed along with all of Pattaya’s famous tourism and nightlife attractions.

This comes as the province of Chonburi has regularly had over a thousand cases a day of Covid-19, with several hundred in the Banglamung/Pattaya area. Many are coming from factories and industrial estates but are still in the local community as well, according to the Mayor. This has also come as a vaccination plan has moved forward slower than officials and residents had wanted. To be able to reopen for tourism and relaunch its economy, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration, an area would need to be roughly 70% vaccinated. Chonburi is nowhere near that number as the majority of vaccines have gone to Bangkok, the epicenter of the current Covid-19 breakout in Thailand.

The good news, however, is that once the situation improves in Bangkok, a more widespread local vaccination program will take place in Pattaya, which is still an economic priority zone according to the Mayor.

“However, we are still working on a Standard Operation Procedure Plan (SOP) which will be measurements to welcome tourists for hotels and tourism places including a sealed route plan for vaccinated foreign tourists traveling schedules.” The Mayor added, without being able to give an approximate date as to when this would be.

To be clear, the initial plan to “open” Pattaya in September was never intended to be a major reopening of all foreign tourists, with all the neon lights back on. In fact, a similar plan in Phuket and Koh Samui still bans bars and nightlife, Pattaya’s bread and butter, from opening. (At least officially.)

Pattaya’s “Move on” safe and sealed plan was originally intended to be a low-key affair in which selected resorts and hotels that passed safety and health measures would be allowed to let vaccinated foreign tourists return, under strict rules.

Under the sealed route plan, the participating tourists could explore the resort and grounds and go on proposed day trips to safe places like islands, water attractions, temples, and gardens. The plan was not one in which tourists could simply “fly-in” and do what they wanted, like prior to Covid-19. Any plan along those lines, according to the Mayor, will likely be a long way away.

“We expect within the next two years, the economy will return to 2019 levels in which we were the 19th most visited city in the world and welcomed 10 million foreign tourists and roughly 7 million domestic tourists. However, until we can get the Covid-19 situation under control things will be difficult. We hope to be able to open our local economy at least for local residents and domestic tourists by Quarter Four (October/November/December), but we cannot promise this.” The Mayor concluded.

https://thepattayanews.com/2021/08/10/y ... ate-given/

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Unfortunately, I find myself in agreement with every word of this article.

The situation is truly serious for people left jobless due to Covid. Many ran out of money long ago and have no means of income whatsoever. Hundreds or even thousands of people have to line up every day for free food handouts. Imagine the hours that have to be spent just doing that. And if the generosity stops, what happens then? And what do these people do on a rainy day if handouts can't take place?

And there is still no sign of Pattaya opening up within the foreseeable future. Even if Pattaya were to open up tomorrow, by the time these people can find employment and be paid, that's another month or two at the very least.

I am still trying - and failing - to understand where this magic number of 70% of the population vaccinated comes from. And with a city getting more and more desperate, once they tell us they've reached the 70% goal, can we trust we're getting honest information?

There is one line in the article that I enjoyed. I wonder if you do too:
The Tourism Authority of Thailand – which, in fact, can’t open a noodle stand on its own, let alone a city
_______________________________________________

It’s official: Pattaya not reopening Sept. 1

By Pattaya Mail

August 11, 2021

For the few still holding out hope, it’s now official: Pattaya is not reopening to foreign tourists Sept. 1.

In truth, it never was. No matter how much Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome and tourism-industry associations talked up the “Pattaya Move On” plan, Sept. 1 was never a realistic date and the plan was never approved by anyone.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand – which, in fact, can’t open a noodle stand on its own, let alone a city – said Aug. 10 there was no way Pattaya could start welcoming fully vaccinated foreigners in three weeks and wouldn’t even predict when Pattaya will be.

Pattaya Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome, however, admitted defeat, saying that, without TAT’s backing, Pattaya cannot continue to lobby for reopening.

Pattaya is not alone. TAT also pulled its support for reopening of Hua Hin.

No one in the central government ever considered reopening Pattaya Sept. 1. The original timetable laid out by the Tourism and Sports Ministry was Oct. 1, and even that proposal was never sent to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

It was Sonthaya and business leaders who moved up the date by a month, revising their original “Move On” plan and sending it to Chonburi Province last month for approval. Chonburi’s governor slipped the plan into a drawer and forgot it.

Reporting 200-300 new coronavirus cases a day, Pattaya is nowhere close to reopening. All available beds at Banglamung Hospital are taken. Field hospitals are full and even closed hotels converted into “hospitels” are fully booked after just two weeks of opening.

Nearly every business in the city is closed. Thousands of people a day are waiting in line at Bali Hai Pier for food handouts and Pattaya’s entire hotel sector has shut down. There’s no indication any of that would, or could, change in 21 days.

What exactly would tourists arriving in September do anyway? Beaches are closed. The city is under curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and residents are told to stay home during the day unless absolutely necessary. Restaurants can open for takeout and delivery only. Bars and pubs are shut, and alcohol is available only during limited hours from convenience stores and supermarkets that must close by 8 p.m.

More than the daily case totals, the biggest factor preventing Pattaya from reopening is the small percentage of locals vaccinated against Covid-19. And the blame for that – and the fact the city cannot restart its life-giving tourism engine – is the central government and its incompetent approach to procuring and distributing effective vaccines.

Pattaya requires about 950,000 doses of vaccine in order to inoculate 70 percent of the population. To date it has received fewer than 100,000. Nearly all of the government’s scarce supply of vaccines have gone to metropolitan Bangkok, even though Chonburi this month has been the second epicenter of the country’s coronavirus epidemic.

The government has abandoned and neglected Pattaya to the point that the city has spent 88 million baht of its own budget to buy 100,000 doses of vaccine made by China’s state-run Sinopharm. Those doses will start to go into Pattaya arms later this month.

Sonthaya said that while a Sept. 1 reopening is now officially off the table, city hall and business groups are still working on a plan to welcome back tourists once the virus situation improves.

“We expect within the next two years, the economy will return to 2019 levels in which we were the 19th most visited city in the world and welcomed 10 million foreign tourists and roughly 7 million domestic tourists,” the mayor said.

“However, until we can get the Covid-19 situation under control things will be difficult. We hope to be able to open our local economy at least for local residents and domestic tourists by the fourth quarter, but even that is not something we can promise.”

https://www.pattayamail.com/news/its-of ... t-1-367286
We expect within the next two years, the economy will return to 2019 levels
Wonderful! And you are basing that prediction upon what facts? I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but my reaction to that comment is:
"Keep dreaming" . . .

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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For me, this news does not exactly come as an unexpected shock. Was anyone truly expecting Pattaya to reopen September 1?

It would come as no surprise to me if Pattaya really does reopen September 1 - of 2022 . . .
____________________________________________

Red tape, slow jab rollout delay Pattaya reopening

by Chaiyot Pupattanapong

22 Aug, 2021

Pattaya City seems unlikely to reopen to tourism on Sept 1 as planned with local businesses blaming the delay on red tape and a sluggish Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Bun-anan Phatthanasin, president of Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA), on Saturday admitted the reopening is likely to be postponed.

A special committee will have to consider the reopening plan submitted by the PBTA, a process required before the plan can be sent to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration's (CCSA) sub-committee for approval, he said.

The committee will comprise various sides including Chon Buri's provincial administration organisation and provincial tourism authorities, he said.

Pattaya City, one of the 10 most popular tourist spots which the government aims to reopen first, is in Chon Buri, one of the areas worst hit by the current outbreak, he said.

An associated plan to get at least 70% of the people in Pattaya vaccinated against Covid-19 before the Sept 1 reopening also appears unlikely to be accomplished either, he said.

Mr Bun-anan said he had no idea when the mass vaccination plan might be achieved.

The PBTA continues working on its part of the reopening plan, including preparing sealed tourism routes for visitors.

Sontaya Khunpluem, mayor of Pattaya City, said the city has ramped up active case finding to get people infected with the virus care and treatment.

Starting Aug 10, a total of 5,196 people have been tested for Covid-19, with 192 of them testing positive, he said.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/21 ... -reopening

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Perhaps they should focus more realistically on September 2022.
"In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king"

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Chaiyot Pupattanapong wrote:
Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:44 am
Mr Bun-anan said he had no idea when the mass vaccination plan might be achieved
That's not very impressive. I'd hope that the authorities handling the vaccination roll out might liaise with the people planning the local tourism recovery.

I had a go at calculating when 70% of the Thai population might be vaccinated, as it might have some bearing on where I go on holiday this winter. My best guess is the holiday will be in Thailand, with Cambodia as a possible alternative.

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Pattaya tackles hurdles to reopening

by Dusida Worrachaddejchai

23 Aug, 2021

Pattaya needs to overcome obstacles, including slow approval of standard operating procedures (SOPs), insufficient vaccinations and a spike in infections, as they could jeopardise its reopening plan this year.

Apichai Chatchalermkit, deputy governor of digitalisation research and development at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the private sector already submitted SOPs to Chon Buri Provincial Public Health Office and is waiting for approval.

The authority is dealing with a surge in new daily infections.

Chon Buri, deemed a dark red zone, saw daily infections exceed 1,000, while Bang Lamung and Sattahip districts, which were set as pilot areas to reopen, reported 221 and 34 cases, respectively, on Aug 20.

He said the province's vaccination rate is far from the herd immunity level of 70%, currently sitting at 33% of its population.

"Pattaya's reopening plan cannot start without those conditions," Mr Apichai said.

The Pattaya Move On scheme requires tourists to stay in alternative local quarantine, which has 19 facilities in two districts, during the first six days before travelling under the sealed route programme from the seventh day.

He said the length of stay in Pattaya was 5-7 days prior to the outbreak, which is shorter than in Phuket.

Tourists might not have to purchase tour packages in advance, but they have to use services from tourism operators who have received the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certificate. More than 10 operators are waiting for TAT approval of certificates.

If operators fail to prevent tourists from sneaking to other places, their SHA Plus certificates will be revoked.

Prior to the pandemic, Pattaya ranked third in the country with 9.4 million international travellers, of which 2.72 million came from China, followed by Russia at 1.14 million.

Mr Apichai said after the endorsement of the Sputnik V vaccination for the sandbox scheme, Russia is a potential market to spur demand, particularly from chartered flights as Chinese tourists are still not allowed to make overseas trips.

U-tapao airport in Rayong province, which is located outside the two districts of Bang Lamung and Sattahip in the reopened area, is ready to offer flights to Pattaya under the sealed route scheme.

India, South Korea, Taiwan and Germany are other source markets for Pattaya, though the TAT has to monitor the travel restrictions of each country, he said.

https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/21 ... -reopening

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Bangkok Post wrote:
Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:30 am
He said the province's vaccination rate is far from the herd immunity level of 70%, currently sitting at 33% of its population.
So someone still believes 70% vaccination is the correct threshold for herd immunity.

Also, a 33% vaccination rate compares with 28% of the whole Thai population who have received 1 or more doses, as of 19 August (Our World in Data).

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Jun wrote:
Mon Aug 23, 2021 4:42 pm
So someone still believes 70% vaccination is the correct threshold for herd immunity.
And vaccination with what? Isn't that an important consideration? How many people are getting the relatively useless Chinese vaccines? I wonder what the consequences might be if Pattaya opens up on that basis. And I'm not feeling particularly optimistic.

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Gaybutton wrote:
Mon Aug 23, 2021 5:21 pm
And vaccination with what? Isn't that an important consideration? How many people are getting the relatively useless Chinese vaccines? I wonder what the consequences might be if Pattaya opens up on that basis. And I'm not feeling particularly optimistic.
Exactly.

Firstly the idea of 70% vaccination giving herd immunity is flawed with Delta + a good vaccine. Depending on what we read, the herd immunity vaccine threshold seems to be somewhere around 80~90% or even not possible with current vaccines.

Secondly, we don't know how many of the 70% will get an inferior Chinese vaccine.

I suspect the best we can hope for is that the 70% includes all the high risk people and whilst the Chinese vaccine might not be very good at preventing infection, maybe it keeps most of them out of hospital ?

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Re: More bad news for Pattaya

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Jun wrote:
Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:09 pm
we don't know how many of the 70% will get an inferior Chinese vaccine.
I think it will be close to 100% of the 70%. If you've seen the photos of the daily mob scenes at the Pattaya sports stadium, where the locals are able to get vaccinated, do you need me to tell you which vaccine they're getting?

And let's not forget the number of people who can't even go to the sports stadium to get it. Hasn't it occurred to the powers-that-be to offer free transportation to and from the sports stadium since so many can no longer afford to get there on their own?

Along with that, how many Thais who live and work in Pattaya (or a least used to work in Pattaya), but were not born in the Chonburi province are going to be counted as part of that 70%, whether they manage to get vaccinated elsewhere or not? My guess is none of them.

Again I hope I'm completely wrong, but this whole approach to the idea of herd immunity, even if it turns out that herd immunity will really work, is my idea of madness. I am truly worried this crisis is being handled the way things, such as flooding and drought, are usually handled - by just hoping everything will be ok.

It is incredible to me that at first Thailand handled Covid so well, but now has virtually snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.

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