Thousands of tourists from Russia are now stranded in Thailand, officials said on Tuesday, as unprecedented Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion put pressure on Russians. are having difficulty finding flights and financing.
Mild cancellations, free-falling rubles and payment problems from Russian banks cut off from the global SWIFT system have left more than 7,000 Russians in limbo in locations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Krabi, director of Thailand’s tourism management agency said.
“We have to be good hosts and take care of people,” Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
He added: “There are still Russian tourists on their way here.
The Russian Embassy in Bangkok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its citizens.
In 2019, Thailand welcomed 1.4 million Russian tourists. In January, it counted about 23,000 Russians, about a fifth of all arrivals.
About half of those stranded on Phuket Island.
“We have asked hotels to reduce prices and extend stays,” said Phuket Tourism Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam.
Some travelers, when possible, used China’s UnionPay after cards issued by Russian banks using US payment companies Visa and Mastercard stopped working, he said.
Visa and Mastercard announced on Saturday that they have suspended operations in Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has called its actions there a “special operation”.
Although Thailand was among 141 countries that backed a United Nations resolution calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal, it did not impose any sanctions on Moscow.
Bhummikitti said hundreds of people from Ukraine were also stranded, mainly due to the closure of the airport there.
He said efforts were being made to get stranded Russians on flights to Moscow by Middle Eastern airlines and arrange repatriation flights.
He said a proposal is under consideration to allow the use of cryptocurrencies for payments at hotels, flights and other businesses in Phuket.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/thousands-of-russian-tourists-stuck-in-thailand-as-sanctions-kick-in-41427202.html Thousands of Russian tourists stranded in Thailand when sanctions started