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Russians race to Thailand

PHUKET: Thailand will be the most popular foreign destination for Russian travellers this New Year festive season, the Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) has revealed. Russian’s own Sochi is the most popular domestic destination.

Saturday 5 January 2019, 01:00PM


Thailand is Russia’s destination of choice for the New Year 2019 festive period. Photo: Tatsuya Fukata / Flickr

Thailand is Russia’s destination of choice for the New Year 2019 festive period. Photo: Tatsuya Fukata / Flickr

Thailand’s beaches and Sochi’s ski resorts competed fiercely for Russian travellers this New Year festive season, being the top destinations of choice for tourists from European and Asian parts of the country respectively, said Maya Lomidze, the Executive Director of ATOR, whose members include Russian tourism powerhouses Biblio Globus, Coral Travel, Natalie Tours, Pegas Touristik and more.

Ms Lomidze shared the information at a recent tourism forum named “Tourism results of 2018, trends in New Year demand from Russians, forecasts for 2019”.

“The geographic factor plays an important role here as Thailand and China remain destinations number one for the regions of Siberian Federal District and the Far Eastern Federal District. Sochi is the place of choice for the residents of Ural Federal District and Central Feeral District. This results into having two major winter destinations”, RIA Novosti quoted Ms Lomidze as saying.

According to Ms Lomidze, Thailand and Sochi are “elbowing each other and share the first place” on the list of destinations most preferred by Russian tourists.

Ms Lomidze believes that in the future it will be reasonable to treat Western Russian and Eastern Russian as separate tourism sub-markets due to the difference of tourists’ preferences.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand reported in December 1.27 million Russian arrivals in the first 11 months of the year, up 10.33% from the same period of the previous year. In November alone, Thailand welcomed 166,249 visitors from Russia, up 1.76% year-on-year.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have set a target 1.5mn visitors from Russia as their goal for the whole of 2018, as revealed by Anoma Wongyai, a Phuket native who is currently Director of the TAT Moscow Office and who previously served as the Director of the TAT office in Phuket.

The TAT announced on Christmas Day that Thailand had recorded 7.5% growth in visitor arrivals for January-November 2018. Thailand received 34,431,489 international visitors, up by 7.53% over the same period of last year, generating an estimated B1.8 billion in tourism revenue, up by 9.79%.

The highlight of the results was the fact that seven countries – China, Malaysia, South Korea, Lao PDR Japan, India and Russia – have already generated more than one million visitor arrivals, and three more countries – USA, Vietnam and Singapore – were set to follow suit when the full year 2018 results were tabulated.

Commenting on the performance, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said, “We are overjoyed to have this result in the last quarter of 2018. The 35mn visitor target is now set to be met. It is a tribute to the cooperation and creativity of the entire Thai travel and tourism industry to ensure that it remains our primary sector for job creation, distribution of income nationwide, and contribution to cultural, heritage and environmental preservation.”

For January-November 2018, all regions grew well except the Middle East and Oceania. Visitors from East Asia totalled 23.62mn (+9.21%), Europe 5.91mn (+4.03%), the Americas 1.41mn (+3.70%), South Asia 1.77mn (+11.32%), Oceania 838,713 (-1.40%), the Middle East 683,420 (-6.24%), and Africa 174,565 (+9.63%).

East Asian visitor arrivals comprised the biggest market share of all visitors. A total of 23.62mn or 68% were from East Asian countries. Apart from China (9.69mn), the other top sources of arrivals were Malaysia (3.56mn), South Korea (1.62mn), Lao PDR (1.59mn) and Japan (1.5mn).

The Asean countries in total generated over 9.17mn arrivals, with growth by Malaysia (+15.52%), the Philippines (+12.63%), Indonesia (+11.52%), Vietnam (+10.18%), Cambodia (+4.59%), Lao PDR. (+4.48%), Singapore (+3.73%), and Myanmar (+0.68%). Out of everyone, only the country of Brunei showed a decline (-3.89%).

European visitors were up 4.03% to 5.91mn. Behind Russia, the UK was the second-highest source market with a total of 877,502.

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