The 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia is interrupting the consistent flow of Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand. According to statistics of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the number of Russian visitors in Thailand over the first five months of 2018 surged 21.4 percent over-year to reach 802,496 persons. Meanwhile, a drop of 13.0 percent YoY was recorded for May, and this downtrend may continue through the period of the world's largest football tournament. This trend is also similar to many other countries, because it would appear that Russians prefer to stay home at this moment.
For the rest of 2018, however, this tourism segment will likely see gains, given that Russians who benefit from buoyant economic activities during the World Cup may plan to travel abroad. If both domestic and international atmospheres are accommodative to holidaymakers, and if the global trade conflicts do not affect the Russian economy and currency, KResearch views that this year's number of Russian tourists in Thailand may stand around 1.60 million persons, or 19.2-percent growth over-year versus the 23.5-percent growth recorded in 2017. Tourist receipts to be generated by Russian travelers are expected to total THB129.72 billion, rising 23.5 percent over-year against the 2017 increase of 28.7 percent over-year.
Aside from the global economy, an important issue to watch through this year-end involves heightened competition from other countries to attract Russian travelers to their tourist destinations. As found in brochures of some Russian tourism agents, there will be more direct flights from Russia to Turkey in the second half of this year, which also suggests that competition will intensify. Currently, the popular destinations for Russian tourists include, for example, European countries, China and Turkey.
The average length of stay in Thailand of Russian tourists is 2-3 weeks. Their favorite places are beach towns, and their spending is in one of the highest groups. Therefore, businesses in the places of seaside tourism, especially in secondary cities, should place more focus on the Russian tourist market.
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