BANGKOK – Tourism in Thailand dropped down 6.6 percent from a year earlier, 24.7 million tourists visited Thailand throughout 2014 a tourism official said Thursday.
The drop resulted from the country’s political chaos in the first half of 2014 as well as international economic factors like Russian ruble depreciation, Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul was quoted by Bangkok Post as saying.
A decline in visitors led to a 5.8-percent reduction in revenue, Kobkarn said.
In November alone, devaluation of the Russian ruble caused a 21- percent decline in Russian tourists, figures from the Tourist Authority of Thailand showed.
Second only to China, Russia is a major source of tourists for Thailand. The drop in Russian visitors has hit resorts towns such as Pattaya and Phuket.
A a major inbound operator has said Russian arrivals to Thailand could plummet by up to 65 per cent this year as a result of Russia’s political and economic crisis compounded by the collapse of the rouble at the end of last year, said
Kubilay Atac, general manager of Pegas Touristik Thailand, said arrivals halved at the end of 2014 and will likely slide further to 65 per cent.
While Atac had predicted the crisis, the devaluation during the peak season was a “big slap in the face” as it was “the one period we had to recover losses from last year”.
Pegas, which brought 506,000 Russians to Thailand in 2014, is now forecasting between 150,000 and 165,000 arrivals this year. “I don’t think Thailand will receive more than 500,000 to 600,000 Russians this year, certainly not the 1.9 million the Tourism Authority of Thailand predicted for last year.”