Russian tourists to Thailand should visit beyond Pattaya, Phuket and Samui

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is to use Russia’s top travel trade show, to be held this month, to launch a strong effort to diversify the choice of Russian visitors’ popular destinations beyond Pattaya, Phuket and Samui.

The “new destinations” to be highlighted include Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Krabi, Ko Chang and Rayong. In addition, TAT will be seeking to raise the interest of the Russian travel trade in new products; such as, health and wellness and Chic Travel Thailand.

The 200 sq m Thai booth at the OTDYKH International Russian Travel Market-Leisure (OTDYKH-Leisure) will include a Thai massage demonstration area and a special section for Medical Tourism products.

TAT is heading a delegation of 22 Thai tourism business operators to the OTDYKH-Leisure. The most important travel trade event for the Russian market and CIS countries is organised by EUROEXPO in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation and Association of Russian Tour Operators. Thailand has been participating in the show since 1995.

This year’s presence is particularly important because it is an important part of the Thai recovery campaign for the second half of 2014. Russian visitor arrivals will be crucial to this overall recovery.

In January-August 2014, Russian visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 1.09 million, up by 4.8% over the same period in 2013. For 2014, TAT expects arrivals from Russia to total 1.93 million, up 10.55 per cent over 2013.

Prior to the OTDYKH-Leisure, TAT held a roadshow presentation on 15 September, 2014, in St. Petersburg for local tourism business operators and media.

Mr. Sugree Sithivanich, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, delivered a welcoming speech at the networking lunch, which was followed by a product briefing by Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Executive Director of the Europe, Africa and Middle East Region.

Mr. Tanes provided an update on Thailand’s tourism situation and introduced new products; such as, boutique hotels, private resorts and pool villas, which are growing in demand for Russian family trips as well as weddings and honeymoons. He also highlighted other new products; such as, Central Embassy (a newly opened luxury shopping complex in downtown Bangkok) and Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Rami Intra Road.

Commenting on the Russian marketing effort, TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “We now need to get the word out that Thailand is now back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. At our Thailand’s Best Friends Forever Mega Fam Trip and Happiness Street Festival on 25 July, we were pleased to see a strong turnout of many specially invited Russian media and travel trade representatives.

“The critical step now is to convert that positive publicity into bookings for the upcoming last quarter of 2014 and beyond.”

Mr. Thawatchai said that the core of the tourism marketing and promotion activities highlight the “Thainess” theme as the unique selling proposition.

The Governor added, “With the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, this is also an ideal time to promote travel linkages via Thailand to the Greater Mekong Subregion countries.”

In 2006, Russian visitor arrivals totalled 187,658. By 2013, this number had surged to 1.74 million Russian visitors. One major reason for the growth is accessibility. Russians have been able to avail of a 30-day visa-free access to Thailand since March 2007. In addition, there are numerous scheduled and charter flights between major cities in Russia, the CIS countries and Thailand.

In 2013, Russian visitors stayed an average of 15.19 days and spent an average of 4,619.51 Baht person per day (US$150.33). This contributed a total of 122.50 billion Baht (US$3.9 billion) in tourism earnings revenue to the Thai economy.

Other trends from the Russian market include a growth in bookings being made online, more tour operators offering combined destination packages with other Asian countries, and increased use of social media networks, especially via smartphones

In 2015, the TAT Moscow Office has been assigned to organise a project “Wanderlust Russian” that will allow Russian visitors to share their experiences through social media, learn more about niche market products; such as, spas and luxury travel, as well as help each other recommend attractions and activities. They can also find a list of tourism business operators in Thailand.