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Russian tourism to Thailand: Will 10,000 in 2021 turn into 435,000 in 2022?

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With a massive array of Western sanctions slapped on Russian Federation over its brutal unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, there are very few places left in the world, where Russian tourists can travel for business and leisure.

Most of the European destinations, including all of the European Union states, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries are pretty much off limits to the Russians, leaving them with very few options, primarily in Africa and Southeast Asia, for vacation and holiday travel.

Thailand, that has already been a prime travel destination for Russian holidaymakers for many years prior to current uncertain and turbulent time, and that has not imposed any restrictions on Russian Federation concerning the ongoing Russia’s war of aggression waged against neighboring Ukraine, has a unique opportunity to become a major destination for Russian travelers.

The number of Russian tourists visiting Thailand is projected to significantly jump from 10,000 visits in 2021 to 435,000 in 2022.

Travel industry experts urge Thai tourism officials to ensure they capitalize on this demand by increasing direct flights from Russia and ensuring aspects such as card payments can be accommodated across tourist hotspots.

When looking at Cyprus – a top outbound destination for Russians prior to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, visitation to the island nation is projected to drop by 42.6% year-on-year (YoY) in 2022.

Thailand could potentially cater to many of these Russian visitors that now deem the logistics of traveling to EU countries too difficult.

Thailand is set to fully reopen its borders to international tourists this year with no need for a negative pre-departure PCR test.

Although the number of Russian tourists traveling to Thailand is predicted to only be at 29.2% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels in 2022, the aforementioned factors will likely combine to create a staggering 4,421% YoY increase in Russian visitation to Thailand in 2022.

According to recent survey, 61% of Russian respondents stated they typically take sun and beach trips, with this type of trip being the most popular for this market.

Thailand is world-renowned for its sun and beach product, with locations such as Maya Beach and Monkey Bay attracting tourists from across the globe.

Cultural trips are also popular with this market, with 39% of Russians stating that they typically undertake this type of holiday.

Thailand’s highly unique culture acts as a significant pull factor for international tourists with its Thai temples and palaces.

Thailand has acknowledged it now has a key opportunity to become a major destination for Russian travelers in the coming years.

In May 2022, Thailand’s Minister of Commerce stated that Thai banks had displayed interest in Russia’s proposal to introduce the Russian MIR payment system for Russian travelers in Thailand and pledged to coordinate with the appropriate Tourism and Transport ministries to facilitate direct flights from Russia.

With Russian travelers spending a total of $22.5 billion in 2021, which placed Russia in the top 10 globally for total outbound tourist expenditure, Thailand could benefit significantly from the EU’s ban on Russian travel as the market is forced to change its preferred destinations due to the ongoing crisis.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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