This question has been around for over 30 years & sadly there is no easy answer, opinions seem to vary 50:50 on the subject.
The problem is simple, many businesses on the western side overlooking the bay are encroaching illegally on public land. The argument is this land should be given back to the public rather than leave it in the hands of a few wealthy business people, who seem to have a false sense of entitlement, and have built businesses on public property to line their own pockets.
A comment was recently made by a concerned citizen, “”just what part of the phrase “public land” don’t they understand?”” It certainly is a reasonable argument in favour of demolition.
On the other hand many people believe Walking St is a world famous icon that draws millions of tourists to Pattaya every year. Tim Franklin, a concerned citizen, wrote the following in November 2016;
“Do not demolish the buildings. There are many people that have never been to Pattaya but would love to visit. It is kind of like the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisianna, USA. If you demolish Walking Street then you will definitely be doing a very foolish thing. I would like to visit Pattaya and possibly buy a condo or a home, but if you destroy the only reason I want to visit then why should I spend my money in Pattaya. I am just an interested person. PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY WALKING STREET. It is a historical landmark that attracts people from all over the world. You will lose millions of BAHT and US dollars, not counting the untold millions of people that come there because of WALKING STREET.”
Tim makes a rather strong argument which many people agree with. Pattaya is far from a one dimensional tourist destination, there are so many family friendly attractions including Underwater World, Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens, the Sanctuary of Truth, Ramayana Water Park, & Sriracha Tiger zoo to name just a few.
Add to this the amazing golf courses within a short drive of the city, plus so many great waterfront restaurants from Rimpa Lapin in the south to Mum Aroi in Naklua. Throw in Wongamat & Jomtien beaches and you will quickly see families are certainly well catered for.
Two days ago Anan Charoenchasri Pattaya’s new mayor, commented in the press about his desire to rid Pattaya of all criminal elements and improve the city’s image. Apart from the issues of crime he also said he was determined to solve the traffic problems which are chaotic, and address the important areas such as littering, dirty water & prostitution.
“We have only just started” he said, “but we will succeed and make Pattaya a better place.”
In conclusion it would seem Pattaya has many other problems to solve without doing away with their number one tourist attraction which is undoubtedly “Walking Street”.