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The Russians Aren't Feasting Like Monarchs In Thailand Anymore

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 20 Dec 2014

Hard times have fallen on Pattaya, a beach resort about 60 miles southeast of Bangkok, as Russian tourists cancel their vacation plans amid the collapse of the ruble."Hotel room reservations from the Russian market have already dropped by 70% for this high season," Sanpetch Suppabawonsathien, president of the Thai Hotels Association, told The Bangkok Post.According to figures from the Kasikorn Research Center, visitors from Russia to Thailand dropped by 5.5% in 2014 to 1.65 million from 1.75 million. Russia is currently the third-biggest market for Thai tourism, according to the Post.It's a stark change from the mid-1990s when the Thai beach resort was considered a "dream destination" for wealthy Russians, as described in a 1995 essay by American journalist Ron Gluckman."The Russians come in large numbers, generally as couples or families on holiday. They settle into Pattaya for up to two weeks and rely heavily on hotel food-and-beverage services, the most profitable portion of a hotel's business," Gluckman writes.They had money. And enjoyed spending it."They also eat and drink like feasting monarchs," Gluckman adds. "At Pattaya's Russkii Restaurant ' serving beetroot salads, borscht and liver stroganoff ' proprietor Konstantine Povolotski stocks $300 bottles of champagne."Now, Pattaya hoteliers are being pressured by travel agents to "cut surcharges and gala dinners from tour programmes in the peak season and to sell special packages for Russian tourists," The Bangkok Post said.Suppabawonsathien said he expects the number of Russian vistors to Pattaya to plunge by more than 50% in 2014, compared to last year, due to the weakening of the ruble, which fell to an all-time low against the dollar this week.Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on Thursday, in which he said that the central bank and government are taking adequate measures to put the country on a positive track and that Russia would bounce back from the current economic crisis within two years.Join the conversation about this story
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