Sports to save Pattaya
Ministry of Tourism and Sports believes hosting sports events in Pattaya could help to lift the resort’s image and build new business.
The tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said Pattaya has the potential to be a world-class sports destination, a comment that has been made repeatedly in the past, but very little has been accomplished to turn sentinments into reality. It would require a substantial investment in infrastructure to raise the standard of hosting for major sports events.
Apart from excellent tennis facilities, golf courses and a motor racing circuit, the resort lacks world-class stadiums, Olympic size swimming pools and facilities for international track and field events.
“The ministry is confident if the government succeeds in upgrading the city as a world-class sports tourism destination, it will help improve Pattaya’s image from just a nightlife destination,” the new minister of tourism said.
“The ministry and related organisations were studying the feasibility of the upgrade, particularly for marine sports, with the ministry to spearhead the development along with cooperation from other relevant public and private organisations, local communities and provincial administration.”
Pattaya’s big benefit is convenient access to airports; the main gateway Suvarnabhumi Airport is 100 km north of the resort and U-Tapao airport is just 30 km south.
But apart from that, Pattaya is an overcrowded urban sprawl on a coastline of beaches and bays packed with high-rise condominiums and hotels.
It’s a long shot, but sports if pursued seriously could take the spotlight off the resort’s sordid reputation as a sex tourism destination. If there was lucrative revenue from international sports events, it might encourage local authorities to limit nightlife entertainment to a designated red light district well away from the beach road.
According to Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, Pattaya needs improvements in four major areas.
They are: Addressing water pollution and other environmental issues; build several new landmarks; add more activities or attractions; and develop infrastructure.
According to the tourism ministry data, there were 9,440,676 tourists travelled to Pattaya last year increasing 6.35% from 8,876,924 visits in 2012. Of that, 6,986,237 were international travellers (+6.43%) and 2,454,439 were Thais (+6.13%).
The beach destination received THB105,851.39 million in tourism revenue in 2013 improving 10.36% from THB95,911.03 million in 2012. There are 40,758 accommodation rooms available for visitors.