Connect with us


Opinion: Russian Return – just victims of ‘host fatigue’

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Good news for Phuket’s all-important tourism industry comes with indications that the sharp downturn in arrivals from Russia in the first quarter of this year is expected to be short-lived, with a solid recovery for this important market sector projected for the fourth quarter, according to industry analysts.

The huge increase in the number of tourists from Russia to Thailand over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal, rising steadily from under 200,000 in 2006 to more than 1.3 million in 2013.

Despite a slight drop-off last year, Russia is Thailand’s third largest source country for foreign tourists (after China and Malaysia), and has emerged as the single largest ‘European’ source country, as classified by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport’s Department of Tourism.

This influx has not only dramatically changed Phuket’s tourism demographic, but also set off a great deal of discussion and debate, especially in English-language social media. While the positive economic aspects of the so-called ‘Russian invasion’ continue to go largely overlooked in that realm, there has nevertheless been a great deal of critical stereotyping over the way Russian packaged tourists are said to interact with their Thai hosts, travellers from other countries – and even among themselves.

Such perceptions are nothing new and constitute little more than the latest manifestation of the ‘hospitality fatigue’ that we have encountered with each and every quickly emerging tourist source market, the first waves of which typically reach our shores as part of packaged tours.

We have seen similar phenomena when other markets like the Korean and, more recently, the Chinese markets were on the rise.

While it remains up to the reader to decide the veracity of stereotypes, there is little doubt that a great deal of snobbery tends to be directed at packaged tourists generally by their more ‘FIT’ (free, independent tourist) counterparts.

In the case of Russia, we expect a great deal of this negative stereotyping, at least in the expatriate community, mostly due to the superpower’s conflicts – historical and ongoing – with neighboring states.

One of Phuket’s greatest attributes as a tourist destination or second home, is its increasingly cosmopolitan nature. This editorial writer had a chance to join a packaged tour excursion to the Surin Islands a few years ago with a group of Russian tourists. While there was definitely a language barrier, some of them were fluent in English, giving us an opportunity to socialize and exchange enlightening views about the nationalistic brainwashing we were all subjected to as children on opposite sides of the Cold War.

Such interactions can go a long way to offset the kind of knee-jerk stereotyping one might fall into after standing behind a shirtless Russian in line at the check-out counter at a shopping mall, for example.

A resurgence of the Russian inbound market after a fall in the value of the ruble and that country’s conflict with Ukraine will show that Thailand’s internal political affairs are not a hindrance to Phuket’s attractiveness to Russian tourists. Given Russia’s famously long and hard winters and its importance to the Phuket market, we should hope that projections of recovery prove to be correct, and that the 30,000-strong Russian expat community continues to thrive as a result.


Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Thaiger Talk Forums.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 mins ago

Thai PM not happy with soccer gambling

Coronavirus (Covid-19)49 mins ago

Doctors demand the government be more honest about Covid-19

Songkhla2 hours ago

Songkhla officials investigate pricey street lamps

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Crime2 hours ago

Illegal casino operator accused of 4 charges including murder

Thailand2 hours ago

Survey shows lack of confidence in Government’s handling of vaccinations

Thailand3 hours ago

Goverment kind of discloses what the secret budget is spent on

Weather3 hours ago

Penis statue works as village sees rain after erection

Eastern Thailand4 hours ago

Man busted for allegedly possessing over 100 marijuana plants, selling marijuana online

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Bangkok parks, salons, tattoo, massage reopen Monday

Tourism5 hours ago

TAT declares Phuket “is ready” to reopen for tourism on July 1

Coronavirus (Covid-19)6 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Sunday: 2,804 new infections and 18 Covid-related deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

With nearly 60% of their population vaccinated, why is Chile’s Covid rate surging?

Tourism19 hours ago

Pattaya October reopening hampered by obstacles

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

Thong Lor again: 31 arrested in club violating Covid-19 rules

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

Pfizer vaccine application received, review process begun

Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism3 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8