The cruise and sailing business in Pattaya and the East Coast is expected to flourish next year as more tourists from neighbouring countries flock to the area.
According to a study by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), Pattaya could see a flood of visitors from neighbouring countries when 10 Southeast Asian nations meld into one single market under the Asean Economic Community next year.
Cruises, sailing and other water activities in Pattaya city, Koh Lan and Koh Chang are expected to boom.
Taweebhong Wichaidit, managing director of Dasta Area 3, which includes Pattaya and vicinity, said yesterday that his office had produced 800 safety manuals with instructions for marine travel in Thai, English, Chinese and Russian. They have been distributed to operators of personal watercraft, sailboats, cruises and diving tours as well as hotels in the areas.
Each year, 1,000-2,000 cruise liners, mostly from Europe, stop in Pattaya. Their numbers dropped slightly this year because of the political unrest, but are expected to return to normal next year.
The government has budgeted Bt15 billion for a nationwide tourism development plan running from 2013-22, focusing on developing attractions and sustainable tourism.
For Pattaya, Dasta proposes to create three landmarks - Bali Hai Cape, ancient Chinatown of Chak-ngaew, and the fishing village in Na Krue. Koh Lan is also another target to be developed as a "green island".
Last year, 9 million foreign tourists visited Pattaya, generating revenue of more than 80 billion baht (S$3.2 billion). If Pattaya's image is restored, visits could reach 15 million in 2019.
Ocean Marina Pattaya said its boat show from Nov 27-30 drew more than 100 cruise operators and 6,000 visitors, both local and foreign.