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Published on : Thursday, February 14, 2013
South-East Asia is recording significant growth in Russian arrivals, who are spilling over beyond Thailand and into neighbouring countries.
“Russia is now one of the fastest-growing source markets for Vietnam. Last year, we recorded a dramatic growth of about 70 per cent,” said Tran Phu Cuong, deputy director general, international cooperation department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, at the ASEAN NTOs + Russia meeting.
Tith Chantha, director general, Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism, noted a similar trend. He said, “Last year, Cambodia welcomed 100,000 Russian tourists, marking a 50 per cent increase from the year before. For 2013, we are targeting 30-40 per cent growth.”
Head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism, Alexander Radkov, said that more than one million Russians visited South-east Asia last year, with Thailand being the top destination, though Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore were becoming increasingly popular.
However, regional NTOs told TTG Asia e-Daily that a key challenge was still the lack of Russian-speaking guides, an issue that is being addressed.
Said Yuri Kopylov, vice-rector of Russian State University for Tourism & Service, “We will widen the format of language courses to include language immersion courses in Russia; previously it was just an e-learning programme for tour operators on the Internet, followed by a one-month course in Jakarta. We are also in discussion with PATA to foster closer links for exchange programmes and internships between Russia and ASEAN.”
Radkov added, “We still have to remove barriers such as visa formalities and improve security for Russian tourists in South-east Asia.”