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Yevgeny V. Afanasiev, the Russian Ambassador

Russian Honorary Consul Announced for Phuket

Monday, May 5, 2008
SO MANY RUSSIANS are coming to Phuket that an honorary consul has been appointed. He is Sukit Jerawanon.

Khun Sukit's appointment was confirmed when the Russian Ambassador, Yevgeny V. Afanasiev, visited Phuket on May 2 to see the Governor, Niran Kanlayanamid.

Mr Afanasiev, whose full title is ''Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation, Permanent Representative to ESCAP,'' said Phuket was becoming a popular destination for Russians.

Accommodation figures from resorts and guesthouses show there were 122,419 Russian visitors to the island in 2007, an increase of almost 41 percent over the previous year.

The number of signs now appearing in Russian script and the magazines and brochures designed specifically for the Russian market indicate that more will be coming.

Russians are the seventh largest national group at present, but likely to surpass the Chinese in sixth position and threaten to overhaul the Germans, the Koreans, the Swedes, the Britons and the Australians who still lie ahead.

Mr Afanasiev said direct flights were bringing people from Russia in larger numbers because it was possible to board a plane and come to Thailand without the need to obtain a visa first.

The ambassador is a role model for other to follow, having visited Phuket many times in his tenure of seven and a half years so far.

''Phuket has many beautiful beaches and Russia can be very cold,'' he said. ''It's no wonder Russians like it here because it's such a pleasant place to relax in the warmth.''

Phuket was not an expensive destination, Mr Afanasiev said.

Khun Sukit said he was pleased that the ambassador wanted him to be the honorary consul and would be working with local government on some of the key issues, including the number of Thai guides who speak Russian.

The Governor said he would be pleased to help Russian tourists whenever he could. Russia and Thailand, especially Phuket, had a good relationship and he had visited Russia several times.

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