Surat Thani: A help centre will soon be up and running for more than 3,000 stranded Russian tourists who are running out of cash and unable to use their credit cards as a result of international sanctions, according to local authorities.
The Russian Honorary Consulate in Koh Samui is establishing the centre to help some 3,200 Russian tourists on Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, said Ratchaporn Poolsawasdi, chairman of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui.
They have been unable to return home as Russian commercial airlines have suspended flights as a result of the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
Their woes are compounded by an inability to use credit cards following Russia’s exclusion from the Swift payment system.
On Tuesday, Mr Ratchaporn and Russian Honorary Consul in Koh Samui, Ashwani Bajaj, met Koh Samui district chief Chayapol Intharasupa to discuss ways of assisting the stranded tourists.
Mr Ratchaporn said the help centre will coordinate assistance and receive inquiries from the Russian tourists via instant messaging applications such as Telegram.
The centre will compile the inquiries and issues raised by tourists before forwarding them to the Russian embassy in Bangkok. In the meantime, the Immigration Bureau has extended visa stays for both Russian and Ukrainian tourists.
The help centre is a joint effort by the local office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, provincial authorities, tourism police, immigration police and the provincial tourism business association.