The Russians are coming. Although many of them are already here, or have been and gone, the announcement that Aeroflot, the Russian national carrier, will start a three times a week high season service to Phuket is good for tourism and property. In the first quarter of 2010 Russian visitors were first, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and China in the top five. Russians are interested in freehold condominium units, according to the Phuket Real Estate Association.
Russians like to purchase large, expensive villas and there are a number of local real estate agents who specialize in this Russian market. Laguna Phuket is a favourite although most of the units are not used or even in rental pools; they are mainly there for investment only. Russians tend to not like other people using their units. There are Russians working on Phuket for tour companies and there is even a Russian language magazine, a Russian version of the established Phuket Magazine.
In addition to Aeroflot, Transaero, a Russian charter airline, flies direct to Phuket and in July this year Pegas Touristik, a Russian tour operator, announced it would increase flights to Bangkok and Phuket from eight Russians cities. In January-June 2010 Russian visitors to Thailand totaled 305,415, a 10.28 percent increase on the previous year, with a large proportion of visitors traveling on to Phuket.
Russian tourists are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some hotel properties in Phuket are reluctant to have them as guests. but there is no denying the Russians’ determination to come here for a holiday, and, maybe, investment. The shortest airline flight from Moscow to Phuket via Vienna, Austria, is 29 hours.