Pattaya City executives ambitiously want to turn the city into ''New Pattaya, the World Class Greenovative Tourism City'' with a ''green and clean'' environment for tourists and locals, at a cost of 15 billion baht to try to change the seaside resort's image.
The 15 billion baht ''Greenovative Tourism'' city plan, earmarks 132 projects, including developing transportation and tourist attractions. It aims to declare Pattaya a green and clean city in 10 years.
But for this transformation to take place, the city needs to be classified as a Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), an initiative introduced by the former Thaksin administration, which gives it semi-autonomy.
The city's administrators have been pushing for the move to reclassify Pattaya and its surrounds since 2008. Dasta approved the application in 2009, allowing Pattaya City to swallow eight municipalities and tambon administrations. The Pattaya masterplan was approved by the cabinet last year.
But Dasta itself, which provides the funding, has not been without its critics who say granting so much financial independence without strict oversight is opening the door to financial abuse and mismanagement.
But cleaning up the streets of Pattaya involves more than just new buses and painting beach benches. Local law enforcement officials say the issues of local vice and foreign criminals living in Pattaya need to be addressed.
A senior immigration official said the plan to turn Pattaya into a green city would be impossible unless the foreign criminals were flushed out.
He said a big problem was hotels and guesthouses not reporting foreign guest stays to immigration within 24 hours, as required by regulations. Compounding the problem are non-registered guesthouses in the notorious Walking Street, many of which double as restaurants.
Pattaya police chief, Pol Col Nantawut Suwanla-ong, said overall the crime rate had declined in the past two years due to better monitoring by police and volunteers.
''We are working hard to make Pattaya green and clean, but it won't be successful if we can't suppress crime,'' Pol Col Nantawut said.
He said the ''Greenovative'' plan also needed to take into account reducing vice if Pattaya was to meet its tourism goals. One way to achieve this was to have a stronger police presence on the streets.