The Russian embassy in Bangkok has remained silent on the predicament faced by citizens and have not responded to questions from the media.
With countries around the world placing sanctions on Russia over their invasion of Ukraine, Russian tourists are feeling the squeeze, as many of them are not able to return home. There are currently thousands of Russians stranded in Thailand having no access to flights to take them home and being denied banking services, which is affecting their finances.
Flight cancellations, a rouble currency in free-fall, and payment problems from Russian banks being cut off from the global SWIFT system has left more than 7,000 Russians in limbo in locations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Krabi, Thailand’s tourism authority chief said.
“We have to be good hosts and take care of everybody,” Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters. “There are still Russian tourists on their way here.”
The Russian embassy in Bangkok has remained silent on the predicament faced by citizens and have not responded to media requests asking about how they plan on assisting those unable to return home.
Before the pandemic, Thailand was receiving up to 1.4 million Russian visitors annually. Though numbers were reduced drastically, the Kingdom still counted at least 23,000 Russian arrivals at the beginning of 2022. About half that number were stranded on the island of Phuket since sanctions began.
“We’ve asked hotels to reduce prices and extend their stays,” Phuket’s tourism association president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said.
BANKING ISSUES CAUSING A MILD PANIC
Some tourists had China’s UnionPay as an option after Russian-issued credit cards using US payment companies Visa and Mastercard stopped working after both announced over the weekend that they were suspending operations in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Thailand, however, has not yet imposed any sanctions on Moscow even though they were among 141 countries backing a United Nations resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian military from Ukraine.
Bhummikitti added that hundreds of people from Ukraine were also stranded, mainly due to airport closures there, and that efforts were being made to get stranded Russians onto flights to Moscow on Middle Eastern airlines via repatriation flights.
As for banking issues, a proposal is being considered to allow the use of cryptocurrency for payments at hotels, flights, and other businesses.
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