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Thailand aims to make itself even more tourist-friendly to Russians

By Svetlana Skarbo
26 November 2014

Aim to double bilateral trade between the countries to $10 billion in two years.

Thailand aims to see a boost in the amount Russian tourists spend when they visit the Land of Smiles. Picture: The Siberian Times

Tourism is one of the successes in rising trade between Moscow and Bangkok, with Siberian visitors to Thailand accounting for a major slice of the 1.7 million figure in 2013. An average of 4,775 Russians arrived in Thailand each day last year, a rise of 33 per cent on 2012.

This makes Russia the number two tourist market for the kingdom, after China.

Thailand aims to see a boost in the amount Russian tourists spend when they visit the Land of Smiles. 

'To that end, it will provide more Russian-speaking guides and cooperate to solve financial problems of tour agencies,' reported Bangkok-based The Nation newspaper.

Thailand's deputy commerce minister Apiradi Tantraporn is in Moscow this week aiming to promote a wide-range of commercial initiatives to boost trade betwen the two countries, some of which can take advantage of the current sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries. 

'Russian investors will be invited to participate in the Rubber City plan at our industrial estate in Songkhla with the investment privileges offered,' said the minister, who will meet with deputy economic development minister Alexei Likhachev. She is leading a delegation of industrial, investment, tourism and agricultural representatives to attend the second meeting of the Russian-Thai committee on trade and economic cooperation.

Ms Apiradi said the Thai authorities want Moscow to increase its purchases of Thai products, particularly rice, frozen chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables.

The Thais will ask Russia to ease import regulations and revive trade negotiations between the two countries' relevant state agencies.

'Major export products include cars and parts, gems and jewellery, plastic pellets, canned and processed fruits, electrical appliances, engines and rice,' reported The Bangkok Post newspaper.  'Major imports include crude oil, iron and steel, fertilisers, insecticides, ores, finished oil, natural gas and gold bars.'

The Thais hope that they can export more chicken to Russia, which has curbed US and other Western imports. 

From 2009 to 2013, trade amounted to $4.33 billion annually on average. In the first nine months of this year, trade amounted to US$3.83 billion, rising 10.3 per cent year-on-year, figures which are seen as ripe for improvement. 

Two factors may count against tourism in the coming period: the marked decline of the Russian rouble in recent months, linked to Western sanctions and a falling oil price, and a perception of political instability in Thailand. Yet Thailand has become such a strong tourism market for people from Siberia and the Russian Far East that it is unlikely to suffer a major decline. 

The Kasikorn Research Centre estimates  the number of foreign tourists at 25 million this year, a 5.8 percent year-on-year drop.

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