Thousands of Russian citizens stranded in Thailand over restrictions imposed on war in Ukraine

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Thousands of Russian tourists are currently stranded in Thailand, Thai officials said on Tuesday. While unprecedented Western sanctions put pressure on Russia, Russian citizens are struggling to find alternative flights and payment methods.

The canceled flights, the ruble in free fall and the payment problems have blocked more than 7000 Russian tourists in Thailand, in places such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Krabi, said the head of the Thai tourism authority. About half of those stranded were on the island of Phuket.

As anticipated, many countries will be affected because Russian tourists will no longer be able to travel. For example, Thailand receives more than 1.4 million tourists a year from Russia. In January 2022, more than 23000 Russian tourists chose destinations in Thailand, accounting for about one-fifth of all arrivals.

Thai officials are trying to solve their problems and be welcoming, asking hotels to lower prices and continue to accommodate Russian citizens. Some tourists, when they could, used UnionPay in China. Cards issued by Russian banks using payment companies Visa (VN) and Mastercard have ceased to operate due to restrictions imposed on Russia. The idea that the Russians could pay for accommodation and transportation services in cryptocurrencies was also taken into account.

Although Thailand was among the 141 countries that supported a United Nations resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, it did not impose any sanctions on Moscow.

Thai officials say efforts are being made to transport the stranded Russians to Moscow, seeking help from Middle Eastern airlines or arranging repatriation flights.

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