(Reuters) — Thousands of tourists from Russia are currently stranded in Thailand, officials said on Tuesday, March 8, as unprecedented western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine put a squeeze on Russians struggling to find flights and finances.
“We have to be good hosts and take care of everybody,” Yuthasak Supasorn told Reuters.
“There are still Russian tourists on their way here,” he added.
Russia’s embassy in Bangkok did not immediately respond to request for comment on its citizens.
In 2019, Thailand received 1.4 million Russian visitors. In January, it counted about 23,000 Russians, representing about a fifth of the total arrivals.
“We’ve asked hotels to reduce prices and extend their stays,” Phuket’s tourism association president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said.
Some visitors, when able, had used China’s UnionPay after cards issued by Russian banks using U.S. payment firms Visa and Mastercard stopped working, he said.
Though Thailand was among 141 countries that backed a United Nations resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, it has not imposed any sanctions on Moscow.
Bhummikitti said hundreds of people from Ukraine were also stranded, mainly due to airport closures there.
He said efforts were being made to get stranded Russians onto flights to Moscow on Middle Eastern airlines and to arrange repatriation flights.
A proposal was being considered to allow the use of cryptocurrency for payments at hotels, flights and other businesses in Phuket, he said.
Top image: Russian tourists sit on the beach in Phuket, Thailand on March 8, 2022. Credit: Jorge Silva/Reuters
Russian nationals ‘stranded’ in Thailand amid flight sanctions