Thailand has a small but very pragmatical advantage for Russian tourists : the ruble is almost on par with the Thai baht son they don’t have to do complex operation to figure out a price in their own money.
The vast majority of restaurants and tourist venue now offer menu and billboard in Russian in Pattaya, which remains the favorite destination.
About 175,000 Russian tourists visited Vietnam last year, a 170% leap from 2011, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
In Laos, Russian tourist arrivals jumped more than 30% from 2010 to over 7,000 in 2011, the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry says.
A landmark of Russian influence in the region was Cam Ranh, about 200 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, once a base for Soviet Union navy ships to berth.
Cam Ranh airport, built by the US during the Vietnam War was turned over to the Soviet and then Russian airforce from 1979 to 2002.
The upgraded and refurbished Cam Ranh International Airport began operating in 2009 and Vietnam hopes that Russians will soon come back – this time as tourists rather than military officers.
In 2005, only 107,017 Russian tourists arrived in Thailand. Since then, numbers have skyrocketed. According to statistics from the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Authority of Thailand arrivals leapt from about 190,000 in 2006 to about 280,000 in 2007, and from 320,000 in 2008 to 337,000 in 2009. There was then a massive jump of about 91 per cent to 645,000 in 2010. From January to April this year, the last available records, 389,656 Russians entered the Kingdom, 47.8 per cent more than the 263,643 from the same period in 2010 and on pace for a record 1.17 million total arrivals this year.
Phuket-specific statistics from the Department of Tourism measure “arrivals at accommodation establishments” and are generally not as well kept (there is a conspicuous and unfortunate gap for the last three months of 2007 and 2008), but they show the same uptrend. In the first nine months of both 2007 and 2008, roughly 75,000 Russians checked into Phuket hotels – so around 100,000 for the year. In 2009, which has complete statistics, about 178,000 Russians checked in to Phuket hotels and in 2010, Russian hotel arrivals in Phuket jumped 28 per cent to nearly 230,000. Marriott Hotels in Phuket alone, for example, have recorded a roughly 21 per cent increase in Russian visitors from 2009 to 2010.