Russians & Ukrainians Get Helpline

Phuket Airport

A call centre has been set up to provide assistance to Russian and Ukrainian tourists affected by the conflict between the two nations.

The move follows flight cancellations by two Russian airlines — S7 Airlines and Aeroflot — and transaction woes faced by Russian tourists who are unable to use their credit cards.

Around 3,500-4,000 Russian tourists and 300-400 travellers from Ukraine are currently in Phuket.

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.

Visitors from both countries are urged to contact 093-9372086 or 094-8191124 from 8.30am to 7pm for assistance with problems they might be facing.

Bhummikitti Raktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said yesterday the number of arrivals from Russia is expected to drop by 25%-30% following flight cancellations.

“The number will drop further if more economic sanctions are imposed,” he said.

Rising fuel prices will push up air travel costs, which may result in some tourists from other Western countries delaying their travel, Mr Raktaengam said. This will add more woes to the tourism sector.

Mr Raktaengam said the association is looking for a new market to compensate for the decrease of Russian tourists and is pinning its hopes on the Indian market with a first Thai flight from Mumbai scheduled to arrive on 19th March.

The cabinet recently approved an air travel bubble with India which is expected to commence later this month, after commercial flights between the two countries were suspended due to an upsurge of COVID-19 infections in India in late March 2020.

Under the agreement, only Thai, Indian, Nepali and Bhutanese nationals and other nationalities originating from either Thailand or India who hold a valid visa to enter either country will be eligible to fly.

Mr Raktaengam said Phuket is also switching its focus to the Australian market after the country relaxed travel rules, and the Middle East especially Saudi Arabia after the normalisation of bilateral ties.

Japan is also a potential market and its economy is slowly recovering, Mr Raktaengam added.