Russian tourist arrivals fall dramatically, many already stranded in Thailand

File photo: A traditional Thai statue wears a face mask as a campaign for travellers to prevent the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus at the departure terminal of Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok before the new year last year. Jack TAYLOR / AFP

The number of Russian tourist arrivals in Phuket has decreased by 75%, while 3,000 Russian tourists are stranded on the resort island due to the international sanctions being imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

President of the Phuket Tourist Association Bhummikitti Raktaengam, says that the conflict has affected tourism on the resort island and arrivals have decreased due to closed airspace.

At the same time, some Russian tourists already in Thailand cannot fly home, especially Russians who live near the Korean Peninsula and in Siberia, where flights have been suspended since last week. Direct flights from Moscow to Phuket have also been suspended.

He said the Russian tourists currently stranded on Phuket arrived at the end of February and during the beginning of March.

An additional problem is that Russian tourists cannot use their credit cards, as many Russian banks have been cut off from the SWIFT interbank messaging system, while many Thai commercial banks do not support Visa and MasterCard issued in Russia, because the two global credit card giants have suspended operations there.

Therefore, the Phuket Tourist Association has suggested measures, to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Bank of Thailand, to help Russian tourists.

These include Thai commercial banks allowing use of the “Mir” payment system, for Russia to issue virtual cards, similar to those issued by China, and allowing cryptocurrency payments.

He also said that, if the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, it would not only affect tourism in Thailand, but around the world, adding that the cost of travel would increase significantly, due to the steady increase in global oil prices. He also noted that Phuket might have to target tourists from other countries, such as Australia, India, and the Middle East, to revive tourism.


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