Thai officials confirmed Sunday that thousands of Russian tourists in Thailand are struggling to find a way home as international sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine hit Russian tourists.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) official Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya said 3,100 Russians were stuck in Phuket, while just over 2,000 were in Samui, and smaller numbers were in Krabi, Pang Nga, and Bangkok.
TAT said it was working on helping those who wanted to return home, with ongoing “discussions on return flights on regular or special flights.”
While Thailand has not banned Russian flights, international airspace restrictions have seen firms like Russia’s flagship Aeroflot canceling services, leaving tourists to seek alternative routes.
Officials said many Russian tourists were stranded with dwindling cash in their pockets and no access to their banks.
“We have seen instances of difficulty in card payments by Russians in Phuket due to how Mastercard and Visa have suspended services in Russia,” said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of the Phuket Tourist Association.
Meanwhile, local communities across Thailand were stepping in to help.
“We will pay for water, electric, everything for them,” said Archimandrite Oleg, representative of the Orthodox Church in Thailand.
According to the Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry, around 23,000 Russians traveled to Thailand in January this year.
Previously, tourists from Russia accounted for the seventh-largest share of visitors to Thailand, with around 1.5 million traveling to the country in 2019.
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