Much has been written over the years about the plight of Pattaya and how it has been reinventing itself and how its future looks rosy, by contrast Hua Hin goes a little under the radar – but could this town, in time, be a bigger tourist location than Pattaya?
So off the blocks this is where they stand based on 2016 stats. Hua Hin attracts 5million Thai visitors and 1.1 million foreigners a year, whilst Pattaya has surged from 7 million in 2014 to 13 million in 2016. Thailand attracted 33 million international tourists in 2016 up 9% on year previous, and if the analysts have got it right, this figure will increase to 50 million by 2030..Fact is there are not enough hotels to cater for this.
Here is where it all gets interesting in the hypothesis that Hua Hin could surpass Pattaya for tourism numbers, however playful the assertion. A third of all visitors coming to Thailand are now Chinese, they single handily grew Pattaya from its 2014 lull of 7 million to almost doubling the figures in 3 years. What’s not to say that cannot happen in Hua Hin?
Hua Hin, like Pattaya, has plans for a high-speed link to Bangkok; it already has the ferry linking it to Pattaya. In the last couple of years it’s added a world-class water park and in Blue Port Shopping Mall – its gone one better that Pattayas central festival shopping centre equivalent. The beaches are better and the air is fresher too…and if the Ferry is anything to go by, the Chinese are making moves to this location.
The good news for us Expats, I think, is Thailand is adding to its offer all the time, sure it’s not what is used to be, but change is as good as a rest. So whether is Pattaya or Hua Hin – let the good times roll…