Surat Thani –
Russian and Ukrainian tourists in Surat Thani, Phuket, Pattaya, and other tourist destinations are starting to face financial transaction and/or travel problems following a ban of selected major Russian national banks yesterday, February 28th.
The Russia-Ukraine war has now affected the economic system and the tourism business in multiple Thai areas focused on tourism, including Samui, after Western nations and their allies, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Japan have expanded sanctions against Russia, resulting in the ban of many international financial transactions.
As of today, March 1st, both Ukrainian and Russian tourists as well as tour companies arranging tourists from both countries were now having difficulties in making and receiving payment via credit cards and international transfers or in getting flights. It was found that hotel room payments and other expenses made via credit card were not possible for many Russian tourists while Ukrainian tourists on Koh Samui wanted to stay longer and pay for extensions to witness and closely monitor the situation of their own country. Additionally, some citizens of both countries were now “stuck” because of flight bans, and some Russians were limited on funds, made more difficult by new sanctions.
Ratchaporn Poolsawat, President of the Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association, said the association had already acknowledged the problem because many hotels, restaurants, and other tourism businesses were affected.
He said: “Currently, Ukrainians in Koh Samui were now unable to fly back as the airspace was mostly closed and many Russians couldn’t make payments for services such as food, travel, accommodation, etc. Russian travelers couldn’t make international money transfers either and many are also now stuck and unable to access funds, which rolls downhill as problems to tourism businesses.”
The president urged local business operators to inform of similar problems to the association and it would mention the problems to discuss with relevant government agencies to solve problems for Russian and Ukrainian tourists in Koh Samui, Phuket, and Pattaya especially. The Thai Government and Tourism Authority of Thailand are reportedly looking for possible solutions for those affected during the current situation, both tourists and business owners.
In Koh Samui, the cumulative number of tourists since last year is recorded at 20,929 people. Of which, 2,398 are Russian nationals, ranking the third most visited nationality or 10 percent of all tourists, while Ukrainian tourists were ranked at the sixth with 750 people or 3.5 percent. Approximately 2,000 Russian tourists, according to the president, are currently in the Samui area and many are now having financial issues.
Photo Courtesy: Naewna
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