Thailand to fix credit card payment issues, provide shelter for Russian and Ukrainian tourists

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Thai officials are exploring measures to support about 7,000 stranded Russian and Ukrainian tourists amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in suspension of Russian credit card payments and flight cancellations.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will discuss four proposals with the cabinet on Tuesday. 

Those aids include a waiver of visa extension fees up to 1,900-baht, accommodations, seeking alternative payment channels, and solving problems on travel insurance.

The majority of Russian and Ukrainian tourists are currently in Phuket, followed by Koh Samui, Krabi, and Pattaya, according to TAT.

Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn said that the government has yet to estimate the budget for these assistance measures, adding that he will also discuss arranging repatriation flights for tourists who wish to return to their home countries.

As a result of international sanctions imposed against Russia, Visa and Mastercard have blocked Russian credit card transactions worldwide. Thai authorities are seeking alternative options such as the Chinese payment network UnionPay, as well as cryptocurrencies.

The Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) president, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, said that the group is in contact with the Bank of Thailand about adopting cryptocurrency as an alternative payment option for Russian tourists.

“Cryptocurrencies would serve as a backup while transactions could not proceed,” Bhummikitti said.

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