The military junta in Thailand is on the mission of improving Pattaya’s image to the outside world. The authorities launched a “Happy Zone” with a police rock band and mascots, hoping to change the infamous sex tourism scenario.
It’s not rare to find Pattaya in the headlines of international newspapers. However, while the beautiful city could be famous for its beaches, high-rise condos, shopping malls, luxurious resorts, and 5-star hotels, international travellers mostly know it as “The World’s Sex Capital” or the “Sin City.”
Photo Credit: Inse Asia
However, the junta now wants to rebrand it as a tourist destination where people come for entertainment, not for sex. Pakkaratorn Teianchai, the provincial governor, said that they would not allow prostitution in those entertainment areas.
However, the reality is quite different as the sex industry is vital to the city’s economy. The sex workers can earn three to four times more than the average minimum wage per day. So, the lure is hard to ignore especially for those who live in poorer rural regions.
The junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered many crackdowns after the city made international headlines for prostitution in February. However, those raids only affected the city’s economy. The recent initiative is a softer approach to control the problem.
Photo Credit: Morung Express
The authority ordered the businesses in the Happy Zone to make the area safer for tourists. The police also increased security patrols and launched an app so that travellers can get help in an emergency.
Pattaya city police chief, Apichai Krobpetch, said that the project would help to promote the country’s quality tourism.