Russians drop, Chinese soar at Pattaya’s tourist market shifts

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Russian tourism is down more than 50 percent so far this year, but has been offset by a 112 percent increase in Chinese tourists, plus healthy gains in Indian and Vietnamese visitors, Pattaya business leaders were told.

TAT Pattaya office Director Suladda Sarutilavan told the Sept. 9 meeting of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association that, in the first seven months of 2015, 800,000 Russians arrived in Thailand, down from 1.7 million during the same period in 2014.

At the same time, 4.7 million Chinese tourists came to the kingdom and 600,000 Indians, a 20 percent increase year-on-year.

The PBTA was told that Russian tourism is down more than 50 percent so far this year, but there has been a 112 percent increase in Chinese tourists, plus healthy gains in Indian and Vietnamese visitors.The PBTA was told that Russian tourism is down more than 50 percent so far this year, but there has been a 112 percent increase in Chinese tourists, plus healthy gains in Indian and Vietnamese visitors.

While Hong Kong and Taiwanese visitors are down, she noted that Vietnamese arrivals are up 48 percent to 400,000 from January through July.

Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, noted that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Slovakia have issued “red” level tourist advisories, which resulted in the cancellation of nearly all tours and a near-total disappearance of visitors from those countries following the Aug. 17 bombing of Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine.

Insurance companies in those nations also are refusing to issue travel policies, contributing to the problem, he said.

Banglamung District Chief Chakorn Kanjawattana said local authorities are working hard to win back the trust of travelers by greatly stepping up security efforts with joint teams of police, military, and government officers.

Thanet noted that other efforts will be needed to get Russians to return to Pattaya, due to that country’s weak currency. He noted that Russians still are traveling to Thailand, but increasingly are choosing Phuket or Bangkok as destinations for their charter flights.

He said the problem with U-Tapao-Rayong-Pattaya Airport – which is currently under renovation – is that landing fees and fuel costs are higher there than at other airports. That has factored into the decision of tour operators where to fly charter craft to.

U-Tapao’s poor land-transport connections also put it at a disadvantage, he said.

PBTA President Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn he will discuss the U-Tapao problems with Pattaya officials soon.