Thousands of Russian tourists are stranded in Thailand due to Western sanctions, causing a decline in the value of the Russian Ruble currency, bank account terminations, flight delays, and cancellations.
Most of the Russian tourists are grounded on the Thai island of Phuket. Phuket’s Tourism Association President, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, said Russian visitors have been using alternative payment firms, such as China’s UnionPay, to pay for their stay.
Ruktaengam added that hundreds of Ukrainians are also stranded in Phuket due to airport closures. Moving forward, he said proposals are being considered to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. “We’ve asked hotels to reduce prices and extend their stays,” he added.
Thailand’s Helping Hand
Visa fees have been waived for Ukrainian and Russian tourists, who are now eligible to extend their 30-day visa without paying the application fee, saving 1,900 Baht. The government is also looking at the possibility of offering shelter and healthcare to those stranded. Due to the sanctions on Russia and the resulting financial implications, many tourists’ health insurance policies have been voided.
“The government has to seek solutions to ensure that patients will receive proper treatment if needed” – Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand
While Thailand hasn’t imposed any sanctions on Russia itself, it did back the United Nations resolution asking Russian troops to leave Ukraine.
Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, stated “We have to be good hosts and take care of everybody… There are still Russian tourists on their way here.”
Thailand’s government has said that they will not be deporting any tourists without their consent; however, the Russian government may try organising repatriation flights for Russian citizens.
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