The Thai government says over 7,000 Ukrainian and Russian tourists affected by flight cancellations will be allowed to extend their visas free of charge. It’s one of a number of measures officials are implementing to help visitors stranded as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Other measures potentially include offering shelter and access to a Chinese payment platform, according to a Bangkok Post report.
The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, says most of the 7,000+ tourists from Ukraine and Russia are in Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and Pattaya. Those who need to extend their stay can do so without having to pay the usual 1,900-baht fee. Russians who want to return home may be repatriated by the Russian government, but will not be deported by Thailand, according to the TAT governor.
Those who are unable to return home due to cancelled flights or the ongoing conflict in Ukraine could be offered shelter, courtesy of the government. The Bangkok Post reports that locations being considered for this are Phuket and Pattaya.
The report goes on to say that tourism operators are now working with the Chinese payment platform, UnionPay, to help tourists affected by sanctions that prevent them using cards issued by Russian banks. Some tourism associations have suggested the government allow the use of cryptocurrencies for tourists unable to make payments any other way.
In related news, it’s reported some private hospitals are unwilling to offer Covid-19 treatment to Russian tourists due to the financial sanctions and the risk they may not be able to pay. Yuthasak says the government is looking at ways to ensure these patients receive treatment if necessary.
Meanwhile, Bhummikitti Raktaengam from the Phuket Tourist Association says flight cancellations by Russian carriers Aeroflot and S7 Airlines have affected future Phuket arrivals. Both carriers previously operated direct routes from many parts of Russia. Bhummikitti says there are currently between 3,500 and 4,000 Russian tourists in Phuket and 300 – 400 Ukrainians.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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