The delegation of 20 representatives from the tourist businesses in Phuket, including hotels, local tour operators and airlines, met their Russian counterparts in three major cities in three days: Moscow on Aug 14; Kazan on Aug 15; and St Petersburg on Aug 16.
Leading the ‘Phuket Road Show 2018’ were Phuket Tourist Association Vice President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam as well as Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) Acting Chief Watcharin Patomwattanapong.
On the ground in Russia to assist with organising the road show was Anoma Wongyai, Director of the TAT Moscow Office.
Before her posting to Russia, Ms Anoma for years was the Director of the TAT office in Phuket.
The road show was praised as a success with a total of 181 representatives from 125 businesses joining the series tourism trade show, with 82 representatives from 56 companies joining the Moscow event on Aug 14; a further 48 representatives from 34 companies joining the event in Kazan on Aug 15; and 51 representatives from 35 companies joining the event in St Petersburg on Aug 16.
“These meetings gave operators in the tourism industry the opportunity to discuss options and enter negations,” Mr Bhummikitti said, adding that the road show was supported directly by the PPAO.
“This gave us the chance to bring together 15 other tourism-related organisation in Phuket and share our opinions together,” he added.
Mr Bhummikitti explained, “The main attractions for Russian tourists coming to Phuket as a holiday destination are the beautiful sun, sea and beach. There are charter flights from 25 destinations in Russia to Phuket, and we have had the chance to directly meet (Russian) local representatives and make several sales there.
“In the future, we will repeat the road show in Siberia and the Far Eastern Federal District. There are a lot of people in those areas who want to travel aboard because their winter lasts for eight months. Plus, people in these areas also have high spending power,” he added.
Ms Anoma noted that 1.34 million Russian tourists traveled to Thailand last year, an increase of 23.5% from 2016.
“Russia is our top tourism source market in the European zone, and Russian tourists generate the second-most income for Thailand after the Chinese,” she said.
“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 she added.
The road shows were imperative in conducting business in Russia, Ms Anoma noted.
“Developing new opportunities by communicating face to face is the best way to do business, but we must keep doing this in order to develop repeat visits while attracting new tourists,” she said.
The main target tourists of the campaign are families, women travellers, visitors coming to Thailand for surgery and beauty treatments, as well as high-quality tourists, Ms Anoma explained.
“We are pushing for these target segments by tourism promotion. We have set a target 1.5 million visitors from Russian as our goal for this year,” she said.
PPAO Acting Chief Watcharin said that road show was supported by the PPAO in order to give Phuket entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet and discuss business and update agents in Russia on new products available.
“The goal is to attract more Russian tourists to travel to Phuket. One of the main reasons the PPAO sponsors this form of tourism promotion and marketing activities for Phuket is to enable Phuket entrepreneurs to meet with entrepreneurs aboard,” he said.
A key figure joining the Moscow event was Poj Harnpol, Chargé d’Affaires of the Royal Thai Embassy to the Russian Federation, which is currently headed by Ambassador Thanatip Upatising.
Mr Poj noted the rise and fall in the number of Russian visitors to Thailand over recent years, but also noted the latest upward trend in the number of Russian visitors to the Kingdom and a corresponding increase in spending.
“In 2018, we aim to have 1.5mn Russian tourists visiting Thailand. Russians are impressed by the national Thai identity and locations such as Pattaya and Phuket,” he said.
Mr Poj added that Thailand should continue to develop different destinations in Thailand with their own forms of attraction.
We need to increase diversity in tourism,” he said. “It is well known that Russian tourists love the beautiful sea, whether in Pattaya or Phuket, but we have to show them more about Thailand.
“One of the top current important missions of the Royal Thai Embassy in Moscow and the TAT Moscow office is to promote the diversity of Thai identity to the Russian people,” he said.