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Rouble trouble to slash Russian arrivals to Thailand by up to 65%

January 8, 2015

RUSSIAN arrivals to Thailand could plummet by up to 65 per cent this year as a result of Russia’s political and economic crisis compounded by the collapse of the rouble at the end of last year, said a major inbound operator.

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Kubilay Atac, general manager of Pegas Touristik Thailand, said arrivals halved at the end of 2014 and will likely slide further to 65 per cent.

While Atac had predicted the crisis, the devaluation during the peak season was a “big slap in the face” as it was “the one period we had to recover losses from last year”.

Pegas, which brought 506,000 Russians to Thailand in 2014, is now forecasting between 150,000 and 165,000 arrivals this year. “I don’t think Thailand will receive more than 500,000 to 600,000 Russians this year, certainly not the 1.9 million the Tourism Authority of Thailand predicted for last year.”

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks, said the worse is yet to come and that Thailand was paying a price for its over-reliance on mass tourism. “The full impact won’t be felt until peak season 2015/16, as a lot of packages (arriving in November and December) were booked and prepaid in early 2014.”

He added that hoteliers would have to offer discounts of 20 to 30 per cent to fill the shortfall. “We can be sure that RevPAR will come under a concerted attack. It’s too early to say by how much it will decline, but it will be significant.”

EU sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the crises in Ukraine and Crimea have dragged on the country’s already flagging economy. The situation was exacerbated by the recent collapse of oil prices which sent the rouble spiralling and significantly cut Russian spending power.

Atac said Russia’s crisis would affect all markets in the region, including Bali, Vietnam and Thailand.

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