Thailand Seeks to Offer Russian Tourists Crypto Payment Option Amid Fiat Sanctions – Thailand, a popular tourist destination for many Russians, is now searching for ways to make it easier for them to pay their bills in the face of growing Western sanctions over Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.
The tourism industry is looking into cryptocurrency as one of the solutions as Russian citizens face financial constraints. Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) are in talks to identify alternate payment ways for Russian tourists visiting the country, including cryptocurrencies.
The move comes after Visa and Mastercard announced that they would no longer support Russian-issued cards outside of Russia, adding to the pressure on Moscow to cease its military campaign in Ukraine.
According to the Nation Thailand daily, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, the head of the Phuket Tourist Association, has lately addressed the prospect of allowing Russian tourists to use cryptocurrency as a backup alternative if fiat transactions cannot be executed.
The PTA official also proposed that Thai businesses adopt the Russian card payment system Mir, which was created when Visa and Mastercard refused to work with some Russian banks following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
According to other media sources, tourism companies have started using the Chinese payment site Unionpay, which also provides bank card services, to provide Russians in the country with another way to pay their bills.
Thousands of Russian and Ukrainian Tourists Stranded in Thai Resorts
Thailand Seeks to Offer Russian Tourists Crypto Payment Option Amid Fiat Sanctions – Phuket, a district comprising approximately 30 islands off Thailand’s southern coast, is currently hosting up to 4,000 Russian Federation tourists. Phuket, the largest of them, is a popular vacation destination in Russia. Bhummikitti estimates that 300 to 400 Ukrainian visitors are now present.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, another 3,000 tourists from both countries are on vacation in Koh Samui, Krabi, and Pattaya (TAT). They have been stranded in Ukraine as a result of the ongoing conflict and have been unable to return home owing to canceled flights.
After a number of countries restricted their airspace to Russian planes, Russia’s Aeroflot and S7 Airlines have canceled flights to Phuket. The Thai government has cancelled a $60 visa extension fee for Russians and Ukrainians, while TAT and tour operators are considering alternative options to assist travelers.
On February 24, Russian military crossed the border into Ukraine, igniting hostilities. Over a million Ukrainians sought refuge in neighboring countries in the first week of the fighting, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Authorities in Kyiv and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have turned to cryptocurrency donations to fund defense efforts and tackle humanitarian issues.