Pattaya Promises To Improve Its Reputation As Sex Tourism Hub

Pattaya tourism operators are determined to promote family tourism, local food, and Thai martial arts to transform its image away from being solely associated with sex tourism.

They also urge authorities to cater to the increasing number of tourists, following the state’s efforts to allow longer stays (up to 60 days) for travelers from more countries.

The Association of Chonburi Tourism Federation (ACTF) organized a tourism workshop this week involving key operators in Pattaya and Chon Buri, with representatives from five major foreign markets: Germany, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, China, South Korea, and India.

ACTF president Thanet Supornsahasrungsi stated that many operators agreed Pattaya’s nightlife image still dominates foreigners’ perceptions more than any other tourist attractions. To counter this, he emphasized the need to promote new, family-oriented activities to align with independent tourism trends.

Mr. Thanet highlighted Pattaya’s potential for growth, citing its various attractions such as water parks, world-class golf courses, Muay Thai camps, and local communities known for craftsmanship in the outer areas. Local cuisine in Chon Buri is set to be featured in the 2025 Thai Michelin Guide.

In the past, Pattaya attracted many retired foreigners who frequented nightclubs for sex tourism. However, the average tourist age has become younger, seeking a variety of experiences. For instance, Russian tourists now travel with children, Mr. Thanet noted.

“It is undeniable some tourists still want to explore the nightlife, and the authorities should regulate an area for these businesses, zoning bars, clubs, and adult motels within one place, as seen on Phuket’s Bangla Road,” he said.

“With the market trends shifting, all businesses in Chon Buri, including bars and nightclubs, must adapt to survive.”

Other issues discussed during the meeting included traffic congestion, inadequate transportation, and flood prevention.

The government recently announced that citizens from 93 countries can now visit Thailand without a visa for up to 60 days. Mr. Thanet expressed optimism about the tourism sector benefiting from this decision.

He mentioned plans for direct charter flights from Kazakhstan to U-tapao airport, scheduled to start next month, as a result of the visa waiver program finalization for that country.

With the implementation of the visa waiver program approaching, Mr. Thanet said all relevant authorities should be prepared to handle an increase in tourist arrivals.

“Our problem is that each authority operates independently,” Mr. Thanet noted.