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Surge of Russian Tourists To Pattaya Exceed Expectations


Published: December 15, 2022 at 8:01 pm
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The launch of daily charter flights by Azur Air from 11 Russian cities to U-Tapao airport last month has exceeded expectations. The airport currently handles roughly 5,000 weekly Russian flights. These flights are added to Aeroflot routes from Moscow to Bangkok and Phuket, as well as the numerous connecting flights from and to the Middle East.

In 2019, nearly 1.5 million Russians visited Thailand and several travel experts anticipate reaching or exceeding this annual figure as early as January 2023. At least a third of these will travel to Pattaya, in which lengthy daily queues form at the congested immigration department in order to register a local address, prolong a vacation stay, or pursue other services.

There are several indications that the recent Russian travelers to Pattaya have a different outlook compared to Russian travelers during the pre-pandemic period. Mikhail Nazarenko, the owner of a bar on Walking Street whose most customers are Russians, said, “Some are anxious and looking for at least 2-week break from Putin’s oppression, while others are in there for the long haul.” According to airline reports, charter flights to U-Tapao are always packed.  However, return flights have some empty seats.
Mikhail disproved the misconception that Russians visiting Thailand have financial struggles due to the imposed international sanctions which prevent them to use their credit cards.

“Russians are utilizing foreign-issued credit cards, while others arrive with large amounts of cash in their carry-on baggage. Russian arrivals in Pattaya also can borrow money from rich Russian expatriates that are already residing in the city and repay the loan through a banking app transfer to the lender’s Russian account. There’s no issue.”

Long-term visas, such as Thailand Elite grants its members a 5-year, multiple-entry stay in exchange for a one-time fee of 600,000 baht  (around USD $18,000 are also popular among Russians.

Implementations by Russians for Thai driving licenses are also on the rise. According to the Department of Land Transportation, Russians can make use of the same-day Cambodian visa run that extends theirs for an additional 45 days and an additional 30 days upon application to immigration.

Russian tourists (just like tourists from the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United States) can now stay in Thailand visa-free for up to 150 days. Real Estate brokers and restaurants are currently preparing to translate their marketing materials into Russian. The Russians are not only coming, but they are already abundantly present in the country.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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