Thailand to offer payment channels, shelter to Russian and Ukrainian tourists


The Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) is in talks with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) to seek alternative payment methods – including cryptocurrency – for Russian tourists in Thailand. Visa and Mastercard have suspended use of Russian credit cards abroad as part of international sanctions imposed against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

PTA president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said he discussed the possibility of Russian tourists using cryptocurrencies as an emergency measure.

He said cryptocurrency would be a backup in case transactions could not proceed. He also discussed the possibility of linking Thai businesses with the Russian payment system Mir. Meanwhile tourism businesses are reportedly turning to the Chinese payment platform UnionPay to offer Russian visitors an alternative way of settling their bills.

Bhummikitti said there are currently 3,500 to 4,000 tourists from Russia and 300-400 from Ukraine in Phuket. Another 3,000 tourists from both countries are holidaying in Koh Samui, Krabi and Pattaya, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The Bt1,900 fee to extend their visas has been waived by the government, while the TAT and tourism operators are discussing other measures to help Russian and Ukrainian tourists who may be stranded by cancelled flights or conflict in their home country. Russia’s Aeroflot and S7 airlines have suspended all flights to Phuket.

Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting will discuss more moves to help stranded tourists, including setting up a tourist-support centre and shelter. It will also discuss arranging repatriation flights for Russian tourists, as well as solutions to problems with travel insurance. No tourists from either country would be deported against their will, said authorities.