The portrayal of Pattaya as a sex tourism destination, emphasized in a new documentary by a German media outlet, is raising concerns in the private sector about potential impacts on the broader tourism industry.
Deutsche Welle (DW) released a documentary on YouTube about sex tourism in Pattaya, but it has been blocked in Thailand.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), recalled a similar incident of sex tourism in Pattaya being reported in Germany about two decades ago.
This previous incident had significantly reduced tourist confidence and numbers from Germany, according to Mrs Marisa.
She emphasized the need for better law enforcement in Pattaya and across Thailand to address the issue of illegal sex workers.
Mrs Marisa noted that Pattaya has diversified its tourism offerings with family-oriented and Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) activities, but changing the city’s sex tourism image remains a challenge.
Mrs Marisa, owner of three hotels in Pattaya, mentioned that the issue can be addressed by both local authorities and the private sector, who should regularly promote diverse attractions and activities to shift the focus away from sex tourism.
“Pattaya is a melting pot that welcomes various segments, regardless of nationality. It has local communities that regularly draw tourists, such as the Takhian Tia tourism community.”
“The city is also one of the most successful Mice hubs, as it has convention centres, an airport, and the upcoming EEC [the Eastern Economic Corridor] project in close proximity,” said Mrs Marisa.
She disagreed with the idea of allowing all entertainment venues in Pattaya to stay open until 4am, proposing instead that the city establish specific entertainment zones to avoid disturbing families and other visitors.
Instead, the Pattaya Municipality should implement proper zoning for entertainment areas to ensure that other visitor groups, particularly families with children, are not disturbed by excessive noise.
“Not everybody visits Pattaya for entertainment or for sex tourism. Allowing all entertainment venues to open until 4am will definitely affect the majority in the city,” said Mrs Marisa.
She advocated for stricter control over the quality of infrastructure in Pattaya and suggested that Pattaya should use its tax revenue and budget to improve public infrastructure, particularly environmental aspects like wastewater treatment systems.