Thailand has become a safe haven for Russian tourists who are looking to escape Moscow’s war in Ukraine, that has now entered its second year.
Russian tourists are flocking to Thailand as it remains a popular destination and they are not being banned from entry like in Western countries. Since the country reopened its borders and dropped Covid-19 restrictions in October, Russian arrivals have made up the third-largest group of visitors, only behind Malaysia and India when comparing figures during 2022.
Over the past 3 months that situation has drastically changed whereby Russian arrivals now vastly outweigh those from any other country. Currently, 3 times the number of Russian passengers arrive each day, compared to the next highest number of foreign arrivals from India, with UK, Australian, German and Kazakhstani visitors trailing a long way behind.
These figures are from the arrival figures at Phuket International Airport published by Phuket Immigration each week, since November 1, 2022.
Many are coming to visit as tourists, but some many others are looking to leave Russia for good due to the fear of economic woes and the ongoing Kremlin war in Ukraine.
Thousands of Russians are searching for a new home, with many younger men fearing being drafted into the Ukraine conflict. All male citizens in Russia aged 18–27 are subject to conscription for one year of active-duty military service in the armed forces.
“In November, when it was the peak of people coming in, Russian tourists were buying everything”.
Amin Ettayeb is a sales manager from Moscow for InDreamsPhuket, selling property on the Thai holiday island of Phuket. The family-owned real estate agency has seen a 10% purchase increase since November. Other agencies on the island are talking about rapidly rising prices and a shortage of properties to sell in Phuket.
Ettayeb says, in a VOA.com article, that for the rental market, villas that once went for less than US$9,000 per month now go for more than US$28,000!
Between November 1 and January 21, more than 233,000 Russians arrived in Phuket, according to data from Phuket International Airport. Last year, Russians bought nearly 40% of all condominiums sold to foreigners in Phuket, according to the Thai Real Estate Information Centre.
However, Emil Saliani, who is originally from Ukraine but has lived in Thailand for several years and works as a property sales agent, said not all of his clients are looking to stay in Thailand long term.
“Not many people want to permanently leave Russia, they just want to make sure they don’t have to go to war. When things go back to normal, they will most likely go back.”
According to the Phuket Tourism Association,vsome Russian tourists are illegally working as tour guides and taxi drivers in Phuket.