Tourism stakeholders in Phuket are heralding the landmark approval of the Sputnik vaccine by the Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) that is set to unleash the Russian market on the southern Thai island.
Phuket has for years been a very popular destination with Russian travellers, peaking in 2019 with over 700,000 arrivals in a short five-month period in 2019, all arriving on direct flights from the Russian Federation. A total of 1.4 million Russians visited Phuket in 2019.
The traditional snowbird period from November to March is when temperatures drop severely in Russia and also in many parts of northern Europe, signaling travelers to take flight for the tropical chimes and clear blue skies of Phuket.
“This is great news for Phuket. It’s time to go beyond the Sandbox and build a foundation for a broader tourism initiative,” said Phuket Tourist Association President, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam. “The industry can now get back to basics and focus on the northern European winter season. This is a big opportunity for Phuket. These are our legacy markets.”
Laguna Phuket, an integrated destination in the popular Bangtao Beach area, consisting of seven hotels, a Bangkok Hospital operated PCR test-centre and acres of open spaces, gardens and lagoons, has already been a beneficiary of the Phuket Sandbox given its safe haven reputation, but this is a major step up according to its Managing Director, Ravi Chandran.
“The acceptance of the Sputnik vaccine is a game-changer for Phuket,” he said. “The outbound Russian market is the biggest one in the world outside of China and the timing is perfect with the high season starting in November this year. Phuket Sandbox has proven to be a success and this will now take these achievements to greater heights still for all hotels, tourism stakeholders and the local community on the island.”