Cashless and flightless, Russian tourists stuck in Thailand

Mar 12, 2022, 6:19 AM | Updated: Mar 13, 2022, 11:07 am

BANGKOK (AP) — Thousands of Russian tourists are stranded in Thailand’s beach resorts because of the war in Ukraine, many unable to pay their bills or return home because of sanctions and canceled flights.

The crisis in Europe also put a crimp in recovery plans for the Southeast Asian nation’s tourism industry, which has hosted more visitors from Russia than any of its neighbors before the pandemic hit.

There are about 6,500 Russian tourists stuck in Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi and Pattaya, four provinces that are popular seaside resort destinations, in addition to 1,000 Ukrainians, Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told The Associated Press on Friday.

Some 17,599 Russians accounted for the largest bloc of arrivals in February, representing 8.6% of a total of 203,970, according to the Public Health Ministry. After the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine, their numbers drastically declined.

Yuthasak said the Russians face two main problems: cancellations of their flights home by airlines that have stopped flying to Russia, and suspension of financial services, particularly by credit card companies that have joined sanctions against Moscow. There are also some who prefer to delay their return.

“There are some airlines that still fly to Russia, but travelers have to transit in another country. We are trying to coordinate and search the flights for them,” Yuthasak said.

While almost all direct flights from Russia have been suspended, connections are still available through major carriers based in the Middle East.

He said efforts are also being made to find alternative methods of payments for Russian tourists.

Siwaporn Boonruang, a volunteer translator for Russians stranded in Krabi, said some cannot pay their bills because they can no longer use Visa or Mastercard credit cards.

Many have cash and those with UnionPay credit cards, which are issued by a Chinese financial services company, can still use them, but payment by cryptocurrency is not allowed, she said.

Many hotels have helped by offering discounted rates, she added.

Thailand’s government has offered 30-day visa extensions without payment, and is trying to find low-cost alternative accommodation for people forced to stay for an extended period.

The problems associated with the war in Ukraine have compounded Thailand’s hopes for economic recovery. Officials hope to see the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic ebbing by July, even though daily cases are currently at record highs, driven by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Thai authorities later this year expect to drop most quarantine and testing regulations that have been in place to fight the spread of the virus, which would make entry easier for foreign travelers.

Thailand may have to lower its targets for tourist arrivals and revenues this year because of the knock-on effects of rising oil prices and inflation on global travel, Yuthasak was quoted saying by the Bangkok Post newspaper.

“Tourism is still a key engine to revive our economy, even though revenue was stymied by negative factors,” he said.

According to the report, Thailand had projected gaining a total of 1.28 trillion baht ($38.4 billion) in revenue this year from foreign and domestic tourists.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Officers: Wellness check leads to fatal shooting in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A police officer fatally shot a man early Sunday while conducting a wellness check at a home in St. Petersburg, officials said. Just before 4 a.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg police officers responded to a report of a hit and run. Officers found the bumper of the suspect’s car at the […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Jon Batiste attends the TIME100 Gala celebrating the 100 most influential people in the worl...
Associated Press

Jon Batiste to sing for Macron at Biden’s 1st state dinner

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — Musician Jon Batiste is on tap to perform at President Joe Biden’s first White House state dinner on Thursday, highlighting long-standing ties between the United States and France and honoring President Emmanuel Macron. “An artist who transcends generations, Jon Batiste’s music inspires and brings people together,” said Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson […]
13 hours ago
Fans from the United States cheer for their team during the World Cup group B soccer match between ...
Associated Press

US-England World Cup game seen by 19.98M on US television

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States’ 0-0 draw against England in the World Cup drew 19.98 million viewers for English- and Spanish-language broadcasts, the third-most watched men’s soccer game on U.S. television. The match, which kicked off at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, was seen by 15,377,000 viewers on Fox, the most for a […]
13 hours ago
This image released by Disney shows a scene from the animated film "Strange World." (Disney via AP)...
Associated Press

Feast and famine for Disney at Thanksgiving box office

Thanksgiving often serves up a feast of new family movies at the box office, but the Walt Disney Co.’s animated offering ” Strange World ” fizzled with audiences out of the gates. The production, which carried a reported $180 million budget, grossed just $18.6 million in ticket sales in its first five days and $11.9 […]
13 hours ago
A youth uses his smartphone as he and a friend walk along the Malecon seawall in Havana, Cuba, Frid...
Associated Press

Cuba’s informal market finds new space on growing internet

HAVANA (AP) — In the Telegram group chat, the messages roll in like waves. “I need liquid ibuprofen and acetaminophen, please,” wrote one user. “It’s urgent, it’s for my 10-month-old baby.” Others offer medicine brought from outside of Cuba, adding, “Write to me in a direct message.” Emoji-speckled lists offer antibiotics, pregnancy tests, vitamins, rash […]
13 hours ago
An inflatable depicting the World Cup trophy is seen during pregame celebrations prior to the World...
Associated Press

Saudi viewers angry over apparent ban on World Cup streaming

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — World Cup viewers in Saudi Arabia say the government has blocked a Qatari-owned streaming service that was supposed to broadcast matches in the kingdom. The suspension has stunned and outraged customers of TOD TV, which holds the rights to show the World Cup in Saudi Arabia. TOD TV is owned by […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Cashless and flightless, Russian tourists stuck in Thailand