11 July 2024

It was often said that Thailand’s world famous seaside resort town of Pattaya never sleeps. That was broadly true, until late last month, when the country’s second wave of COVID-19 struck. It began in nearby Rayong province and quickly spread to three other coastal provinces, including Chon Buri.

All four coastal provinces in the eastern region, and Samut Sakhon, have now been declared maximum-security Red Zones, including Pattaya in Chon Buri.

Although many tourism-related businesses in Pattaya were affected by the first wave of the infections early last year, forcing some to close, there was no complete lockdown, as is the case today, and the situation gradually improved through the second half of the year, offering renewed hope to many entrepreneurs, albeit without Chinese tourists.

Many placed their hope on the recent long New Year holiday, which would normally have given them some short-term relief with the arrival of Thai visitors. Sadly though, their hopes were dashed.

The formerly vibrant resort is now a ghost town. The famous walking street is eerily quiet as all the bars and shops remain shuttered. It is pitch black at night, as all the decorative lights and sign boards are off, although the street lights still illuminate the empty roads.

Haunting “Annabelle” dolls have been placed anonymously at the entrance to the walking street, and on beach road, as if to drive home the message that Pattaya has become a ghost town.

Despite the despair and desperation of many entrepreneurs, some have not lost all hope and remain determined to overcome the town’s worst crisis ever.

The Center Point Prime Hotel, on the Sukhumvit Road in Bang Lamung district, is an example of the fighting spirit.  The hotel recently erected an illuminated sign in Thai, which reads “Soo Soo” or “Fight Fight”, to offer moral support to the other beleaguered businesses.