Russia-Ukraine war to derail Southeast Asia’s tourism recovery

Russian tourists in Southeast Asia: Cashless and flightless

Travel industry experts fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could become a major road bump for the fragile recovery of tourism-dependent economies in Southeast Asia – just at a time when Covid-19 travel restrictions are beginning to be lifted across the region.

The Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are now open to vaccinated travelers, albeit with costly and cumbersome protocols.

Indonesia recently announced it would restart quarantine-free travel to Bali, Batam and Bintan by March 14, Vietnam plans to reopen to tourists on March 15 and Malaysia on April 1, while Singapore already has vaccinated travel lanes with 32 countries and regions and said it aims to open to all travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 “rather sooner than later.”

However, the war in Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and airspace restrictions have dampened projections in a region where Russians became the largest and most generous group of visitors for many top destinations during the Covid-19 pandemic, displacing Chinese who are currently unable to travel due to their country’s strict border controls.

Troubles in Thailand

In Thailand, 17,599 Russians accounted for the largest bloc of arrivals in February, representing 8.6 per cent of a total of 203,970 foreign visitors, according to official tourism data. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, their numbers drastically declined.

Meanwhile, there are about 6,500 Russian tourists stuck in popular holiday destinations such as Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Pattaya, in addition to 1,000 Ukrainians, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said.

Yuthasak said the Russians face two main problems, namely cancellations of their flights home by airlines that have stopped flying to Russia, as well as suspension of financial services, particularly by credit card companies that have joined sanctions against Moscow. There are also some travelers who prefer to delay their return.

Thailand may have to lower its targets for tourist arrivals and revenue this year because of the knock-on effects of rising oil prices and inflation on global travel, Yuthasak was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

Cashless in Bali

In Indonesia’s Bali, another popular holiday destination for Russians, Australia was overtaken by Russia in the first year of the pandemic as the largest source of tourists, with some 68,000 of its citizens flying to the island in 2020, according to Statistics Indonesia. Russians were also among the first to return when borders partially reopened and about 1,150 Russians entered Indonesia in January 2022, the statistics show.

But as in Thailand, they are now scrambling for cash. Those who opted for long-term stays to carry out freelance or remote work during the pandemic are also starting to leave, local hoteliers and co-working space providers say.

In Vietnam, particularly in the south central Khanh Hoa province which has been popular with Russian visitors ever since, tourism businesses and hotels are worried about the absence of Russians as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Russia and China were traditionally the biggest tourism source markets for Khanh Hoa, home to the popular beach towns of Nha Trang and Cam Ranh and high-end resorts stretching along the coast. With those two markets running dry, many tourism service providers said they would now focus on South Korean and Australian visitors.

 



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[caption id="attachment_38300" align="alignleft" width="300"] Russian tourists in Southeast Asia: Cashless and flightless[/caption] Travel industry experts fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could become a major road bump for the fragile recovery of tourism-dependent economies in Southeast Asia - just at a time when Covid-19 travel restrictions are beginning to be lifted across the region. The Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are now open to vaccinated travelers, albeit with costly and cumbersome protocols. Indonesia recently announced it would restart quarantine-free travel to Bali, Batam and Bintan by March 14, Vietnam plans to reopen to tourists on March 15 and Malaysia on...

Russian tourists in Southeast Asia: Cashless and flightless

Travel industry experts fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could become a major road bump for the fragile recovery of tourism-dependent economies in Southeast Asia – just at a time when Covid-19 travel restrictions are beginning to be lifted across the region.

The Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are now open to vaccinated travelers, albeit with costly and cumbersome protocols.

Indonesia recently announced it would restart quarantine-free travel to Bali, Batam and Bintan by March 14, Vietnam plans to reopen to tourists on March 15 and Malaysia on April 1, while Singapore already has vaccinated travel lanes with 32 countries and regions and said it aims to open to all travelers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 “rather sooner than later.”

However, the war in Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and airspace restrictions have dampened projections in a region where Russians became the largest and most generous group of visitors for many top destinations during the Covid-19 pandemic, displacing Chinese who are currently unable to travel due to their country’s strict border controls.

Troubles in Thailand

In Thailand, 17,599 Russians accounted for the largest bloc of arrivals in February, representing 8.6 per cent of a total of 203,970 foreign visitors, according to official tourism data. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, their numbers drastically declined.

Meanwhile, there are about 6,500 Russian tourists stuck in popular holiday destinations such as Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Pattaya, in addition to 1,000 Ukrainians, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said.

Yuthasak said the Russians face two main problems, namely cancellations of their flights home by airlines that have stopped flying to Russia, as well as suspension of financial services, particularly by credit card companies that have joined sanctions against Moscow. There are also some travelers who prefer to delay their return.

Thailand may have to lower its targets for tourist arrivals and revenue this year because of the knock-on effects of rising oil prices and inflation on global travel, Yuthasak was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

Cashless in Bali

In Indonesia’s Bali, another popular holiday destination for Russians, Australia was overtaken by Russia in the first year of the pandemic as the largest source of tourists, with some 68,000 of its citizens flying to the island in 2020, according to Statistics Indonesia. Russians were also among the first to return when borders partially reopened and about 1,150 Russians entered Indonesia in January 2022, the statistics show.

But as in Thailand, they are now scrambling for cash. Those who opted for long-term stays to carry out freelance or remote work during the pandemic are also starting to leave, local hoteliers and co-working space providers say.

In Vietnam, particularly in the south central Khanh Hoa province which has been popular with Russian visitors ever since, tourism businesses and hotels are worried about the absence of Russians as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Russia and China were traditionally the biggest tourism source markets for Khanh Hoa, home to the popular beach towns of Nha Trang and Cam Ranh and high-end resorts stretching along the coast. With those two markets running dry, many tourism service providers said they would now focus on South Korean and Australian visitors.

 



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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