Foreign arrivals statistics for the first eight months of the year, released earlier this month by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS), delivered strong supports to the claims that the ongoing revival in the Russian market is as stable as before and total arrivals in 2018 can surpass last year’s results which ranked as the third largest ever.
According to MoTS, Russian arrivals during the first eight months totaled 950,765 visitors (up 14.65% year-on-year), securing Russia’s position as the largest of Thailand’s tourism source markets among non-Asian countries.
To put it in the context: between January-August 2017 the Land of Smiles welcomed 829,274 travellers from Russia and only 651,830 during the same period of 2016.
With the average pace of some 50,000 arrivals per month during the so called green season, Russian arrivals are to hit 1 million in one month. The target to beat are the last years 1.35mn, while the all-time high is 1.74mn.
In-mid August a delegation from Phuket’s tourism and hospitality industries joined a ‘Roadshow’ to Russia as part of the push by TAT to attract more Russian travellers to Thailand and Phuket.
Thailand’s most renowned resort island has been and still remains the main destination for Russian travellers, explained Anoma Wongyai, now Director of the TAT Moscow Office and Director of the TAT office in Phuket for years before.
“Phuket is a main destination for these tourists. Of the 1.3mn Russian tourists who travelled to Thailand last year, 800,000 visited Phuket,” Ms Anoma said, while talking about the aforementioned ‘Roadshow’.
According to Ms Anoma, TAT officials have set a target 1.5mn visitors from Russian as their goal for this year.
“Russia is our top tourism source market in the European zone, and Russian tourists generate the second-most income for Thailand after the Chinese,” Ms Anoma added.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky believes that his compatriots can come to the Kingdom even in bigger numbers.
“We keep beating all the records in terms of tourism exchange. Some 1.35mn Russian nationals visited the Kingdom in 2017, up 23% compared to 2016. Provided that during the first seven months of this year – i.e. even before the beginning of the high season – Thailand already welcomed 900,000 of our citizens, I leave open the possibility of the final number reaching 1.6-1.7mn tourists”, Mr Barsky told the TASS news agency. Foreign arrivals statistics for the first eight months weren’t published at that moment.
“In the minds of the overwhelming number of my compatriots, Thailand has established itself as a fairy tale-country with friendly people and quite comfortable conditions of life. This has paramount importance for bilateral relations as well”, Russia’s Ambassador added.
Of note, it was 2013 and 2012 when Russian arrivals to Thailand reached their all-time high of 1.74mn and 1.61 respectively. Last year’s arrivals of 1.35mn rank as the third highest ever.