PHUKET /Thailand/, July 15. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the official opening ceremony of the Russian consulate-general in the Thai resort town of Phuket on Saturday and held meetings with compatriots.
Local officials, tourism industry representatives and members of the public also attended the opening ceremony at the Russian diplomatic mission, where the national flag was hoisted and the national anthem was played.
The Russian foreign minister said that the current strong ties between Russia and Thailand "make it possible to build relations in a mutually beneficial way without regard to fluctuations in geopolitical circumstances."
"We are engaged in an intense political dialogue and have economic, cultural, educational cooperation with our Thai friends. Certainly, we do not forget that one of the most crucial tasks is to ensure the rights of Russian citizens. Thailand is a favorite vacation destination for Russian citizens," he said, noting that after flights were resumed, the number of Russian tourists arriving in Thailand has been rising steadily.
Phuket Vice Governor Amnuay Phinsuwan told TASS that all tourist issues related to Russians will be resolved in a much more effective way. He pointed out that alongside the Russian consulate general, they would take care of Russian tourists arriving on the island.
"In the first half of the year, more than 420,000 Russians arrived in Phuket by direct flights. According to the immigration authorities’ statistics, more than 7,500 Russians live in Phuket on a long-term basis. There is lots of work to do. The full amount of consular services will be available in September," Russian Consul General in Phuket Vladimir Sosnov said.
Representatives of the Russian business community said that the opening of the Russian consulate-general in Phuket and more simple consular logistics would make it easier to do business. Moreover, new opportunities will open up for the island’s tourism industry after the influx of Russian tourists gets back to the pre-pandemic level.
There is also a consular mission in Thailand at Russia’s embassy in Bangkok. There are honorary consulates in Pattaya and on the island of Samui.
Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations. Some six million foreign tourists visited the island in the first five months of 2023. Around 12 million foreigners are also expected to visit the place by the end of this year. Russians traditionally make up the most numerous group of travelers visiting Phuket. Representatives of the local tourism industry expect to receive around a million tourists from Russia this year.