Thousands of Russians stuck in Thailand as sanctions kick in

By TIN Media | Asean News Published 6 months ago on 9 March 2022
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Thousands of Russian tourists are stranded in Thailand, according to officials, as unprecedented Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine placed a strain on Russians seeking to find flights and money.

Flight cancellations, a plummeting rouble, and payment issues caused by Russian banks' loss of access to the worldwide SWIFT system have stranded more than 7,000 Russians in Thailand's tourist hotspots of Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Krabi, according to Thailand's tourism minister.

Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters, "We have to be good hosts and take care of everyone."

He continued, "There are still Russian visitors on their way here."

The Russian embassy in Bangkok did not react to a request for comment on its citizens right away.

In 2019, 1.4 million Russian tourists visited Thailand. It tallied roughly 23,000 Russians in January, accounting for about a fifth of all arrivals.

On the island of Phuket, about half of those trapped were.

"We've requested hotels to lower their pricing and lengthen their stays," said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of Phuket's tourism association.

After cards supplied by Russian banks utilizing U.S. payment giants Visa (V.N) and Mastercard stopped operating, some visitors utilized China's UnionPay when they could, he added.

On Saturday, Visa and Mastercard declared that their activities in Russia would be halted due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia has referred to its efforts in Syria as a "special operation."

Despite being one of 141 countries to support a UN resolution asking for the prompt evacuation of Russian soldiers, Thailand has not placed any penalties on Russia.

Hundreds of passengers from Ukraine were also stranded, according to Bhummikitti, owing to airport closures in that country.

He stated that efforts were being made to transfer stranded Russians onto Middle Eastern planes flying to Moscow and to arrange repatriation flights.

He said a proposal to allow bitcoin payments at hotels, planes, and other companies in Phuket was being reviewed.


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