Russian tourism to bounce back from economic trouble
published : 23 Jan 2016 at 16:41
writer: Prangthong Jitcharoenkul
Thailand remains a top destination for Russian tourists despite their country's weakening economy, sayd Kiril Barsky, the Russian ambassador to Thailand.
“This is my firm belief that no matter what happens in our both countries, Thailand will always be a favourite destination for Russian tourists," Mr Barsky told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Even though arrivals from Russia fell 45% last year due to the weak Russian economy, he expressed confidence that the number of his compatriots coming to Thailand would bounce back during the current high-season.
“I am still optimist that a big number of Russian tourists will come back to Thailand," he said, adding that Thailand was still among top overseas destinations for Russians.
Last year, the top five destinations for Russian travellers were Turkey, Egypt, China, Thailand and Finland. Their favourite destinations in the kingdom are Pattaya and Phuket.
Mr Barsky pointed to the improving infrastructure in the two resort cities as a big factor attracting Russian holiday-makers.
“For the last 15 years, basic infrastructure built in Phuket and Pattaya has been designed in accordance with Russian tourists’ requirements. That is why Russian tourists feel very comfortable," he said.
About 1.6 million Russians visited Thailand in 2014, according to data from the Tourism Department. But the plunge in oil prices, and with it the steep fall in the value of the rouble, has sharply curbed travel by Russians. Russian arrivals in 2015 fell 45% to 884,000.
Despite the sharp drop, Russia remained among the top 10 source markets for foreign tourists to Thailand, led by the Chinese.
The Tourism Department noted that more than 50% of Russian government's budget comes from energy exports. Russia's economy contracted 3.9% last year while inflation rose to 12.9%.