According to figures from Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation, arrivals at Krabi International Airport (KBV) increased by 30% in the first 4 months of 2013.
There were 213,453 passenger arrivals at the airport from January – April 2013, compared with 164,161 for the same period last year and a mere 50,377 in 2003, showing an amazing 425% growth in visitor numbers to Krabi over the past decade.
These statistics only count domestic arrivals to the airport, which comprise both Thais and foreign travelers arriving on connecting flights from Bangkok, averaging around 10 – 12 flights per day. However, neither land nor sea travel, nor – perhaps most importantly – direct international flights to Krabi are included in the figures.
With the opening of a second international terminal at Krabi Airport in late 2012, there are now daily scheduled flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, as well as an increasing number of large 300 – 400 seater charter planes arriving from Scandinavia and Russia during the winter months.
Charter flights from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport due to end in March were extended through the green season months of April and May, indicating the increase in Russian interest in Krabi as a holiday destination. Though Russian tourists have been visiting Pattaya and Phuket for many years, it is only recently that Krabi and Koh Samui have benefited from their custom.
According to a recent report in The Bangkok Post newspaper, the average daily spend of Russian tourists is the highest among all European visitors to Thailand, at US$135 (3,920 Thai Baht) per person. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has projected that Russian tourist arrivals in Thailand as a whole will pass 2 million people this year.
Krabi businesses are rushing to take steps to accommodate the new influx of Russian visitors, from signage and menus in Cyrillic script, to full blown websites in Russian language.