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18 Oct 2023

Econ Digest

Extension of visa-free stay for Russian tourists in Thailand sets to bolster arrivals during the rest of 2023


        KResearch views that the number of Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand will continue to grow during 2023. It is expected that Thailand will welcome around 468,000 Russian holidaymakers during the last two months of 2023, bringing the total number to approximately 1.59 million for 2023, which is an increase of more than 7% as compared to that reported for 2019 or before COVID-19. Russians typically begin to take a holiday abroad during the last months of every year, and Thailand is one of their preferred holiday destinations. Aside from marine and cultural attractions, there are four other major factors that will help bolster the number of Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand, including:     

  • Entry rules to Thailand have been eased following the Thai government’s decision to extend the visa-free stay for Russians in the country from 30 days to 90 days (effective from November 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024). As this period is the high season for Russian tourists, their arrivals in Thailand are expect to increase from the current 110,000/month to 198,000/month on average.
  • More Russian tour operators have begun their marketing campaigns to sell holiday packages to Thailand during winter. In early October 2023, chartered flights from 13 cities in Russia flew to Phuket and U-Tapao with plans to increase the frequency of services to Thailand from December 2023 to January 2024. According to a Russian tour agency, the number of Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand has now exceeded that reported in 2019 or before COVID-19. During the summer (July-September 2023), some Russian tour agencies recorded higher sales than those seen in 2019, which was in line with the data compiled by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, showing that the number of Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand grew by about 2.4% YoY during the first nine months of 2023.
  • Competitive tourism products, including the fact that Thailand is one of the top budget travel destinations. According to Russian Travel Digest, holiday packages from Russia to Thailand are cheaper than those to Malaysia and Vietnam by approximately 40 percent (based on a comparison of the lowest tour package prices available at the beginning of October 2023).
  • The Israel-Palestine conflict may cause some Russians to change their travel plans from countries in the Middle East such as Egypt and Turkey to other countries, including Thailand.

        In spite of this, we at KResearch maintain our forecast on the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand for 2023 at 27.6 million. Meanwhile, close attention must be paid to the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East because it has begun to directly hurt the number of Israeli tourists visiting Thailand. Although they account for only about 0.9 percent of the total number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand, Israeli visitors are an important market because of their relatively high spending per trip. If the situation changes, KResearch may revise our forecast on the inbound tourism market within 2023 or 2024.

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