“As for the forecasts, there is every reason to believe that by the year’s end tourist flow from Russia will reach 1.15 million visitors. Year-on-year growth is expected to exceed 31%,” Minister Kobkarn told TASS.
Earlier this year the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) forecasted about one million Russian arrivals to the Kingdom in 2016, up 13% from last year.
“Arrivals from most of other countries are also showing growth, but in the Russian market it turned out to be the most significant. We appreciate it. Russians are not only coming back, they are discovering new destinations for themselves,” she added.
Talking about new trends in the Russian market, Ms Kobkarn pointed out an ongoing change in geographical preferences. According to Ms Kobkarn, the “vector of interest” has shifted from Pattaya towards the Southern provinces”, with Phuket being one of the destinations of high demand.
“Russians love beaches. Previously, Pattaya used to be the main destination for them. Now they are discovering the Southern provinces for themselves. Thus Phuket is highly popular, after visiting which, maybe, many would love to go to Krabi province,” Ms Kobkarn said.
Russian arrivals to Thailand breached the one-million mark for the first time in 2011 and totalled 1.32mn in 2012. The historical maximum was reached in 2013 when Thailand welcomed over 1.74mn visitors from Russia. Since then arrivals had been on the decline, until the recovery began in February this year.
Last week, Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) reported that Thailand lists high among the most popular New Year destinations for Russian tourists benefiting from zero competition from Egypt, flights to which were banned by the Russian government last year.
ATOR’s members include Russian tourism powerhouses Biblio Globus, Coral Travel, Intourist, Natalie Tours, Pegas Touristik and TUI Travel.
“In recent years Egypt used to be number one on the list of the so-called ‘winter sun’ destinations. Thus now the list is topped by destinations that can offer a relative alternative to Egypt”, said ATOR Executive Director Maya Lomidze.