The number of Russian tourists visiting Thailand is projected to significantly jump from 10,000 visits in 2021 to 435,000 in 2022, according to GlobalData. The leading data and analytics company notes that tourism ministers in Thailand must now ensure they can 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 for many of these Russian visitors that now deem the logistics of traveling to EU countries too difficult.
Ralph Hollister, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Thailand is set to fully reopen its borders to international tourists this year with no need for a negative pre-departure PCR test. Additionally, it has not placed any restrictions on Russia concerning the ongoing geopolitical crisis with Ukraine. 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 GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer 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 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.
Hollister concludes: “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.”