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Russian arrivals to Phuket grow on affordable prices, despite the weather

PHUKET: Until recently August has been traditionally the month marking the lowest number of Russian arrivals to Thailand – and in particular, Phuket – but with Egypt and Turkey unavailable and other destinations too expensive, Russians have started returning to the Land of Smiles attractive even in the midst of the rainy season, Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) reports.

tourism, Russian, economics,

Anton Makhrov

Tuesday 30 August 2016, 03:03PM

Tez tour operator staff wait at Phuket International Airport.
Tez tour operator staff wait at Phuket International Airport.

ATOR, whose members include Russian tourism powerhouses Biblio Globus, Coral Travel, Intourist, Natalie Tours, Pegas Touristik and TUI Travel, are reporting that affordable prices are now the key factor determining their clients’ travel decisions and that the industry is taking steps to meet the demand for cheaper options with extra charter flights, seasonal promotions by hotels and shorter duration of stay.

According to ATOR’s analytical service, the average duration of stay for Russians arriving to Thailand on organised tours in August fell to seven to 10 days (compared with 12-14 days last year), while the average price of a tour to Phuket dropped 10-12 per cent to US$700 (about B24,207) from Moscow and to US$500 (about B17,291) from Eastern Russia.

“More and more often it is the budget, not the weather, that determines the choice of destination by tourists. For instance, traditionally Koh Samui used to be popular in summer because of nearly zero rain and storms, but this year the island is less popular than Phuket, where to the contrary the weather is unpredictable, but direct charter flights are available and cheap hotels are aplenty,” says Tatiana Dashkova from ATOR member-company Russian Express.

Ms Dashkova’s colleagues from Intourist believe that direct charter flights by major operators are one of the factors determining Thailand’s rising popularity among Russians in the low season. Transportation costs account for a significant share of a packaged tour price and using charters instead of scheduled flights let operators make their offers cheaper.

Proving this point, several tour operators earlier this year launched new direct flights to Phuket from various Russian cities. Rossiya Airlines now has two charter flights to Thailand per week transporting clients of Biblio Globus/Sayama. Meanwhile, Royal Flight has launched direct charters from Moscow to Phuket for Coral Travel and Sunmar operators, while AZUR air now has four to five flights to Phuket and three flights to Bangkok for ANEX Tour. The latter enjoys clients with an average duration of stay of 11 nights with the average tour price of US$628 (B21,717) per person, ATOR reports.

Coast Beach Club

Phuket is August’s best-sellers in the Russian market followed by Koh Chang and Koh Samui, ATOR members point out.

“The choice of these three particular destination is driven by both availability of wide combined programmes with other destinations and demand for simple beach vacations ‘a la Bounty’ (sic). At the same time tours to Pattaya are losing attractiveness this year resulting in fewer flights to Bangkok,” says a spokesperson for Intourist tour operator.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects about one million Russians arrivals to the Kingdom in 2016, up 13% from last year. ATOR members highlight that chances to reach this target hugely depend on several factors, including the number of flights and availability of competing destinations, specifically Egypt.

Flights to Egypt were banned by the Russian government last year due to safety reasons, but Egypt is pushing hard to persuade Russia that northeast African country is ready to accept tourists again. For now Thailand’s key competitor for mass tourists is out of the game, yet it is still unclear when the ban might be lifted.

“Judging from today’s perspective, the numbers of flights [to Thailand] in the winter period of 2016-2017 will be more than enough. Thus ‘last minute’ [affordable] tickets and tours will be aplenty. Of course if no outside force intervenes and makes adjustments to our plans for winter season,” ATOR quotes Intourist’s representatives as saying.



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petermach | 31 August 2016 - 11:39:19

fully agree with Kurt Phuket land of money , money , no money no smile ; and also land of construction killing environment

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Joe12 | 30 August 2016 - 19:20:01 your usual disrespectful manner you state, "was always a talk about something they have not the slightest idea what that mean." How on earth do you arrive at this bizzare conclusion? It seems you are describing yourself.

It's clear to me they have more knowledge and aforethought than you and rely on statistics - which are an anathema to you and others - to make informed judgments, just like any other savvy business person.

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slippery snake | 30 August 2016 - 19:19:52

Bar girls will be happy to see Russian tourists return as they don't get much business from Chinese guys,, they have their own woman come with them, and most are pretty darn cute...  I have heard many girls complain not many Russians coming here... 

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Kurt | 30 August 2016 - 15:43:10

Last week Russia did start re-operating tourist flights to Turkey ( including charter flights as well).

But if Thailand becomes cheaper for Russian tourists, yes, than it can pick up.
So, 'we' not any longer focus 'quality tourism', but keep going for quantity, right?
Anyway, thai talks about quality tourism was always a talk about something they have not the slightest idea what that means.
Thai go for money even when they have to ruin there own environment.
Numbers, numbers. money, money.

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