Thousands of Russian tourists are reportedly fighting to return home during the holidays as international sanctions are imposed due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, several Russian airlines canceled flights and global payment companies suspended services, imposing a number of international sanctions on businesses and banks.
Russian tourists have been among the largest group of visitors returning to Thailand’s beach resorts since the lifting of the epidemic, but many are now stranded without return tickets.
According to Chatan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), 3,100 Russians are trapped in Phuket, 2,000 in Samui and a small number in Krabi, Fangga and Bangkok.
Although Thailand has not banned Russian flights, some companies, including the Russian flagship Aeroflot, have canceled services due to restrictions on international airspace, forcing tourists to look for alternative routes through the Middle East with various carriers.
Many tourists have also been affected by the suspension of Visa and MasterCard operations. Officials are considering using the Mir system, a Russian electronic funds transfer structure, as well as digital currency, said Bhumikitti Ruktengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.
Epidemic travel bans have hit the UK’s tourism-dominated economy, but the bans were relaxed in 2022, leading to an increase in the number of visitors.
According to the TAT, about 23,000 Russians went to Thailand in January this year. With nearly 1.5 million visits to Thailand in 2019, Russian tourists previously accounted for the seventh largest share of visitors to the state.
Information and sources
Reporter: Paul Rujopakorn
National News Bureau: http://thainews.prd.go.th