NewsThailand's Russian invasion: Phuket overrun by Putin's tourists

Thailand's Russian invasion: Phuket overrun by Putin's tourists

The Russians have found a new paradise. The locals are fed up with them.
The Russians have found a new paradise. The locals are fed up with them.
Images source: © Getty Images | Andre Malerba
ed. TOS
7:58 PM EST, November 20, 2023

Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, Russian citizens were met with a cold reception in many parts of the world. Therefore they've discovered a new travel destination - Thailand. As the months go by, locals are becoming annoyed by the influx of arrivals from Russia, associated with Vladimir Putin's regime.

The reports say that over a million Russian tourists have visited the once exclusive island of Phuket this year. An increasing number of Russians have decided to make the island their permanent home, causing distress to the locals.

Local businesses have been hit hardest, as many of the newcomers have established their own companies, targeting Russian tourists, and some are operating their ventures illegally. In Phuket, an array of businesses like Russian hair salons and transportation companies have sprouted up. Services can be obtained via applications tailored specifically for Russians.

These companies often offer lower prices than the local businesses, leading to significant customer loss for the latter. As reported by Polish media, the competition is not just confined to the Russians and Thais. Russian entrepreneurs also fight against each other, and this procedure attracts criminals to the island.

It's reported that local police has arrested a Kazakh individual suspected of murdering a Russian businessman. The Pattaya resort is now considered a place where the Russian mafia resides. And it's not only businesses that are experiencing tension. The overall residential community is feeling the impact too with the property prices being driven up by the influx of Russians.

Russians are not just frequenting Phuket, but also the entirety of Thailand. Given the adverse effects, Thailand is increasingly looking to attract tourists from countries like Kazakhstan, China, India, and Taiwan - where attitudes towards Russians are more positive.

Travel Surge of a Thousand Percent

In August, The Bloomberg reported a more than a thousand percent increase in the number of Russians visiting Thailand this year. The agency reveals that between January and June, Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports recorded 791,574 arrivals of Russian citizens. Over half of them travelled directly to Phuket island. Moreover, approximately half of the 338 villas sold on Phuket in 2023 were purchased by Russians.

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