Russian downturn dragging down arrivals figure

Russian downturn dragging down arrivals figure

The economic downturn in Russia is affecting Thai tourism, with Thailand now expected to miss this year's international tourist arrival target of 29.5 million.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has therefore revised down the tourist arrival projection to 27 million.

"It's not just Russia. Many European countries are facing serious economic problems, so the number of tourist arrivals from Europe will be on a par with last year or maybe even lower," president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said.

"The number of Russian tourists visiting Thailand will plunge at least 30% this year. In the worst case, their arrivals may fall by 70%."

Last year Russian tourist arrivals dropped by 20% to 857,627 visitors, while overall European tourist arrivals declined by 5.33% to 4.33 million.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) remains confident of welcoming 1.2 million Russian tourists this year.

But ATTA insists Russian arrivals will not reach 1 million, while the figure for Europeans in general could be lower than last year.

Therefore, ATTA will work harder to find new markets to offset this drop.

The Kasikorn Research Center (KResearch) said the decline in Russian tourist numbers would hurt the tourism industry, with hotels and related services affected the most.

However, it is optimistic that political stability will help to attract more tourists from other countries.

KResearch predicts hotels will generate combined revenue of 513 billion baht this year, up by 7% from last year, with 344 billion generated from foreign tourists.

Meanwhile, Mr Sisdivachr said the Asian market, particularly Asean members Indonesia and Vietnam, would be a major tourism driver.

Indonesia has a huge population, while Vietnam's economy is growing economy, and these factors will boost outbound tourism in both countries, he said.

ATTA is planning several roadshows this year including for Indonesia in March, followed by Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It expects the number of Indonesian tourists to increase by 10% this year.

For last year, ATTA reported the number of tourist arrivals through its member tour companies decreased by 24% to 3.24 million.

The top five markets showing a sharp decline were China (down by 6.7% to 1.27 million visitors), Russia (down 28.6% to 479,628), India (down 18.9% to 156,692), Japan (down 61.4% to 111,848) and South Korea (down 43% to 95,448).

Mr Sisdivachr said ATTA was confident it could recover many markets this year such as Japan but not Russia.

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