MOSCOW, October 28 (Itar-Tass) — There is no flood in Thai resorts popular with Russian tourists, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
“The situation is critical in the Thai capital city of Bangkok. Many areas of the city are flooded or face the flood hazard. There are disruptions in the delivery of drinking water and food,” the ministry said.
“Meanwhile, Thai resorts popular with Russian tourists – Pattaya and Phuket, Samui and Chang – are not within the flood zone. The flood-proof international airport of Bangkok is working in the regular mode,” the ministry said.
“The Russian embassy in Thailand is monitoring the developments and maintaining close contact with the local natural calamity management center, the authorities and the police,” the ministry said.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry insistently recommends Russian tourists to thoroughly evaluate the expediency of their trips to Thailand and to abstain from visiting Bangkok. All the Russian citizens visiting Thailand must be careful,” the ministry said.
Russian tour operators report a decline in tourists wishing to visit flood-stricken Thailand, a source at the Association of Russian Tour Operators said on Tuesday.
“Despite the comforting report of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the flood has spared popular resorts, tour operators report a decline in the number of tourists going to Thailand,” the source said.
“Company offices in Bangkok and Pattaya issue regular reports,” Pegas Touristik General Director Anna Podgornaya said. “According to them, the northern areas of Bangkok are flooded. About 200 representatives of tour operators are taking part in an advertisement tour in Thailand at the moment. They are not interested in distorting information, so their impressions can be trusted.”
“The advertisement tour program was not changed. It rains sometimes in the region, and some days are sunny. No one plans to cut short the tour,” he said.
“All the airports of Thailand, including the one in Bangkok, are intact amid the flood and operate in the regular regime,” a source at the Russian Union of Travel Industry said. “The Bangkok Airport has substantial anti-flood systems, which can handle even larger floods,” the source said. In his words, the national government does not think it necessary to use the systems right now, but the situation is being monitored closely.
The Russian embassy in Thailand has no information about Russian citizens possibly hurt in the flood, an embassy source told Itar-Tass earlier.
The embassy is closely monitoring the situation, including that in Bangkok, he said.
Russians appeal to the embassy for information only, in particular, they are interested in the situation in resorts. The embassy maintains permanent contact with the local authorities.
The rain, which has not stopped since July, flooded two-thirds of the Thai provinces. Specialists said this is the most powerful flood in the past decade.
The tour industry says that the interest of Russian tourists in vacations in Thailand has grown in recent years. Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Samui and Krabi are the most popular tourist destinations.
The Federal Tourism Agency said that 233,113 Russians visited Thailand last year, which was nearly 30,000 tourists more than in 2009.
More than 6 million Russian tourists spend vacations abroad in the first half of this year, the Association of Russian Tour Operators said with the reference to data from the Federal State Statistic Service in early September.
The total number of Russians who made foreign trips in that period exceeded 18 million, which was 15% more than in January-June 2010, the Association said.
About 70% of all trips were made to countries outside the former Soviet Union territory, and the rest were made to CIS member states. Over 50% of all trips were made with personal invitations, and slightly more than 30% of all travelers were tourists.
According to the Association, the most popular destinations in the first half of 2011 were Turkey (visited by more than one million Russians) and China (over 600,000 tourists). Egypt ranked third with about 500,000 Russian tourists.
The altered situation in Egypt influenced preferences of Russian tourists, the Association said. “Due to the travel alert for Egypt, many tourism destinations showed unprecedented dynamics. For instance, the number of tourists visiting Cuba doubled to 46,000, while the number of tourists that preferred vacations in the Dominican Republic grew by almost 60% to 52,000,” the Association said.