According to Sanpetch Suppabawonsathien, president of the Thai Hotels Association, the Russian tourist market in Pattaya was slumping for the first time in 12 years.
“Hotel room reservations from the Russian market have already dropped by 70% for this high season,” he said.
Pattaya hoteliers are facing a difficult time due to pressure from travel agents to cut surcharges and gala dinners from tour programmes in the peak season and to sell special packages for Russian tourists.
With the impact from the weak rouble, the number of Russian visitors to Pattaya should drop by more than 50% this year, Mr Sanpetch said.
Pattaya hoteliers need to shift their focus to the Asian market, especially China, he said. But most Chinese travellers prefer to stay in two-star hotels rather than luxury ones.
Chinese visitors have overtaken Russians as the biggest market for Pattaya. Russian travellers prefer to book hotel rooms or package tours at the last minute.
Some Pattaya hotels are operating at only 30% capacity in high season.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said the association is very worried and closely monitoring the economic crisis in Russia. Bookings from Russians remain sluggish even in high season.
Now, travel agents are pressuring Pattaya hoteliers to “cut surcharges and gala dinners from tour programs in the peak season and to sell special packages for Russian tourists,” the Post said.
Suppabawonsathien said he expected the number of Russian visitors to Pattaya to plunge by more than 50% in 2014 compared with last year because of the weakening of the ruble, which fell to an all-time low against the dollar this week.