SURAT THANI — At least 12,000 of our Russian friends will be partying and vacationing on Thailand’s party islands from before the New Year through Songkran.
Russian tourists on 32 direct flights carrying 12, 760 people will head straight to Surat Thani from Dec. 27 until April 22, carrying our comrades from the cold of winter to the tropical parties on Koh Samui, Koh Phang Ngan, and Koh Tao.
Surat Thani governor Witchawut Jinto said Wednesday that these flights, which are on Nordwind Airlines, are fully-booked, and the province will prepare to welcome the influx of Russians.
Surat Thani Tourism Authority of Thailand director Nongyao Jirandon said that the flights will come from Moscow, Novosibirsk, and Krasnoyarnsk, and tourists have an average stay of 11 to 12 days.
Nongyao estimated they would generate 700 million in tourism revenue.
“This group are interested in nature tourism, such as going to Koh Samui’s beaches and diving at Koh Tao, as well as going to the Full Moon Party, shopping, and community tourism,” Nongyao said.
On Tuesday, Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Pattaya said that as many as 4,000 Russians flew in for Loy Krathong via planes with tour groups, with 1,300 people attending each day from Monday through Wednesday.
In 2018, 1.5 million Russians visited Thailand, a 15 percent jump from the year before, with holidayers ferried in by about a 100 weekly flights between Russian and Thai cities. In contrast, Thai tourism to the Motherland is a trickle – averaging about 20,000 tourists a year, though 2018 saw a sharp uptick to 100,000, possibly due to the World Cup.