As temperatures slump for the long winter, sources in Thailand say they expect the largest-ever number of tourists from Siberia and the Russian Far East.
Out of the snow! Svetlana from Vladivostok, Far East of Russia, enjoys the beach outside the city of Pattaya. Picture: The Siberian Times
The Thai authorities say there has been a significant rise in Siberians spending all winter in their country, with the resort of Pattaya especially popular.
The mayor of Pattaya, Ittipol Khunpleum, said: 'We realize that the majority of our Russian guests arrive from Siberia. We welcome them, and want to make sure that anyone and everyone, who wants to get a quality rest is our dear guest here'.
'We might be working on a marketing programme, dedicated specifically to Siberian market'.
Ekaterina from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia says she comes to Thailand every winter to 'warm up'. Picture: The Siberian Times
This week Russian S7 airline has announced 30 new flights a month from major Siberian cities to Bangkok and Phuket.
'October marks the beginning of the high season at resorts of the South East Asia. Thailand remains one of the most popular destinations for beach recreation in winter among the passengers of S7 Airlines from Siberia and the Far East,' said the Novosibirsk-based carrier.
S7 has added four return flights a week from Novosibirsk to Bangkok, two a week from Irkutsk and fortnightly flights from Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk.
The airline will also fly once every two weeks from Novosibirsk direct to the holiday island of Phuket. While many tourists venture direct to Thai resorts, S7 is also offering onward travel deals from Bangkok to other destinations across South East Asia.
'We realize that the majority of our Russian guests arrive from Siberia', Mayor of Pattaya said. Picture: The Siberian Times
Tourism chief Juthaporn Rerngronasa recently singled out Siberia as a key target for Thai marketing and last year Russian tourist arrivals grew by 62% to top one million, the first European country to do so.
A further rise of at least 15 per cent rise is forecast this year, taking Russian tourist numbers to 1.27 million. In 2004, fewer than 100,000 Russians travelled to Thailand.
'Sunny beaches and a tropical climate have lured Russians' hearts. 60% of the travellers from Russia and the CIS nations have gone to Pattaya', said a recent report by the Thai News Service.
'The sprawling beaches in the Southern region from Samui, Phang Nga and Krabi to Satun are being promoted as new destinations. Typically, Russian visitors like to drink and have fun, while some prefer to go on shopping sprees.'
Russian tourists also find Thailand popular for beauty treatments and plastic surgery, say Thai officials.
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