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Phuket tourism chief proposes solutions to Russian bank sanctions

Phuket tourism chief proposes solutions to Russian bank sanctions

PHUKET: The President of the Phuket Tourist Association has proposed several solutions to assist Russians currently in Phuket navigate the challenges they are facing with their payment options.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 12 March 2022, 12:06PM

Many Russian commercial banks are cut off from the SWIFT system and card payment giants Visa and Mastercard announced last Saturday (Mar 5) they were suspending their operations in Russia amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This meant thousands of Russian tourists in Thailand would no longer be able to use their Visa and Mastercard cards while abroad, often their preferred method of payment.

Bhummikitti Raktaengam, the President of the Phuket Tourist Association, said yesterday (Mar 11) there are currently around 3,000 Russian tourists stranded in Phuket and unable to secure flights to return to their homeland, largely due to the fact they are unable to access financial funds.

Mr Bhummikitti proposed three possible solutions to the Tourism Association of Thailand (TAT) and the Bank of Thailand (BoT) to overcome this issue, despite them seemingly ignoring the global sanctions imposed:

1) Allow Thai commercial banks to support Russia’s Mir payments system which provides electronic fund transfers.
2) Allow the usage of Chinese supporting payment systems such as UnionPay
3) Permit cryptocurrencies to be utitlsied as a way of payment

“Right now, there are probably about 3,000 Russian tourists stranded in Phuket,” Mr Bhummikitti said.

“The majority would have arrived here in late February or early March but are now experiencing problems with accessing funds. This three-pronged proposal to TAT and BoT would offer a solution to this problem,” he added.

Thai Residential

He further explained that some Russian tourists are unable to return on their previously booked flights due to widespread suspension of flights in and out of Russia.

“The direct flight from and to Moscow to Phuket has been discontinued,” he said. “This is true for Russian tourists on both eastern and western sides of Moscow. If they want to return to Russia then they will need to book fresh flights to alternative locations who may have a possible connection, or else travel over land. This can be very costly and availability is limited.”

A call centre was established in Phuket on Wednesday (Mar 9) to help tourists from Ukraine and Russia unable to return home because of flight cancellations and economic sanctions imposed. The call centre will be open from 8:30am-7pm until Mar 22.

Mr Bhummikitti added that the numbers of Russian tourists arriving has dropped more than 75% recently due to Russia’s suspension of flights. He added that if the Russian invasion of Ukraine is prolonged then it is inevitably going to have an adverse affect on global tourism and travel expenses will increase significantly.

“We have already seen a significant rise in oil prices globally which will hinder the spending power of tourists everywhere,” he said, adding that Thailand may have to focus on new tourist markets in future such as Australia, India and the Middle East to ensure its tourism industry stays afloat.

Mr Bhummikitti said he thought economic sanctions imposed by Europe on Russia would eventually backfire. As a result, there would be even fewer tourists from Europe to Phuket.

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CaptainJack69 | 14 March 2022 - 12:10:03

The only "solution" to this is for the criminal Putin to be removed from power and the only way for that to happen will be for all Russian people to unify and force him and his corrupt cronies out of their country. They're not going to do that if they're still on their endless 'holiday' in Thailand. So yes, unfortunately, all Russians need to be made to suffer, that what&...

Marvin | 13 March 2022 - 23:15:57

I thought the Russian government and Thailand government had a close relationship. Seems the Russian embassy could pay for all the stranded tourists financial burdens during this war crisis. Rent a few hotel buildings or apartments. Make arrangements to get their people home. I think that the government officials from Russia in Thailand still have access to some type of currency. 

Madeinswiss | 13 March 2022 - 16:17:50

Thats normal Thai government love too much russians tourists... All the counties boycott russian payments system and Thailand playing alone and no respect the worl decisions about Russia.
Maybe M. Prayut will help russia and sending military too? 

Kurt | 13 March 2022 - 11:20:04

Complete a-moral thinking of mr Bhummikitti in trying to avoid/sabotage the International sanctions against Russia. It's duty of Russian Embassy and Consulate General on Phuket to take care of their Russian Nationals. Not to Thai mr Bhummikitti. In his local/inward thinking not a single word about the suffering of Ukraine people due to invading/war crimes Russia commits in Ukraine.

maverick | 13 March 2022 - 10:26:06

Agreed Kurt shocking how they pander to the Russians by assisting their citizens - they should be interred - lock them up in the old Phuket prison it’s empty now.

Kurt | 13 March 2022 - 09:53:05

Breathtaking how TAT and BoT ignore the international sanctions. German Commerzbank, Deutsche bank, usa Goldman Sach and JP Morgan banks, all close down/leave Russia. Mr Bhummikitti, not  international orientated, talks about European sanctions. He misses the world wide sanction solidarity. But he is Thai, so forgive him.

JohnC | 13 March 2022 - 09:18:10

...there are 'probably about' 3,000 Russian tourists stuck in Phuket, he said.. So in other words they have no clue exactly how many Russian tourists there are here. Aren't the authorities supposed to know the EXACT numbers?

Gat Huckle | 12 March 2022 - 14:28:13

 Huh? How is helping stranded tourists supportive of the Ukraine invasion? Should the tourists be made to starve because of the actions of their gov't? To my way of thinking that's a rather, well, rather an odd way of looking at it?

BosysurfNaiHarn | 12 March 2022 - 12:28:45

So the Thai government supports the Russian invasion of the Ukraine? That can only be the conclusion if they ignore global sanctions. Remember, the Russian government was the first to evacuate its citizens from Thailand when the pandemic hit. If they support their citizens, they would evacuate them again/now. 


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