Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Russian tourism hit by ruble

Russian tourism hit by ruble

Beaches in Preah Sihanouk province
People enjoy one of the many beaches in Preah Sihanouk province last year. The decline of the ruble has meant that fewer Russians are coming to the Kingdom. Sam Rith

Russian tourism hit by ruble

Although Russia is over 7,000 kilometres away and 30 degrees colder, its economic woes are hitting Cambodia’s tourism and expatriate scene.

Over the past year, Russia’s currency, the ruble, has lost two-thirds of its value to the US dollar, largely due to declining oil prices and Western sanctions sparked by the conflict in Ukraine.

Here in Cambodia, the ongoing currency decline is causing the dollar value of Russians’ savings to plummet, even leading to cutbacks in certain sectors.

In Sihanoukville, where the street signs on Serendipidity Beach ask tourists in Russian, Khmer and English not to litter, some Russian business owners are tightening their belts.

Zogir Ibragimov, owner of Cambodia’s only Uzbek restaurant, The Spot, said significantly fewer tourists are expected to come this season.

“We’ve had to undertake measures by introducing special deals, because obviously the people have [less money to spend].”

Ibragimov said the ruble’s decline has hit Russian expatriates in Cambodia especially hard, since many of them retain an income by renting their homes in their homeland.

Real estate agent Ruslan Gronov told the Post that Russian tourism to the coastal province was clearly dampened by the ruble’s weakening.

“One month ago many, many Russians were coming to Cambodia, especially from Thailand because the visa is easier to get here,” he said. “But now, I can see it is quiet.”

Currently, the ruble is buying just US$0.01, compared to December 2013, when the Russian currency was trading at more than US$0.03, according to currency website, XE Currency.

Vandy Ho, co-chair of the Private and Public Sector Tourism Working Group, said that while Russians represented only a small part of the overall tourism scene, they drive development in certain areas such as Sihanoukville.

“They spend a lot of money in Cambodia,” Vandy said.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, 132,000 Russians visited Cambodia last year, a number which the government forecast to rise to 150,000 in 2014.

But, as the ruble continues to decline during Cambodia’s most popular tourist season – November to January – Vandy said the ministry’s forecast is unlikely to materialise.

Seng Bonny, executive director of travel agency Eurasie Travel, said the group had seen a 40 per cent decline in Russian customers compared to December last year, although added that he could not speak for the entire industry.

“The numbers could change, but we can’t do anything about the [ruble crisis].”

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia

  • Police arrest 29 Chinese for PP kidnapping

    Phnom Penh Military Police arrested 29 Chinese nationals on kidnapping charges on Wednesday. The suspects are said to have abducted three other Chinese nationals from a hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh district. The operation took place on Wednesday and was led by two deputy commanders –