Phuket: Businesses on this resort island are helping stranded Russian and Ukrainian tourists by lowering the price of their accommodation, says the Thai Hotels Association.
"Due to flight cancellations, some 3,000 visitors from Russia and Ukraine are stranded in Phuket," said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, yesterday.
"They comprise two groups, the first being tourists who plan to return home soon and the second being those who wish to remain here until the [Russia-Ukraine war] situation improves."
For those who wish to stay in Phuket longer, some hotels are offering lower rates on rooms, Mr Kongsak said.
Meanwhile, those affected by financial sanctions and interrupted payment methods may be asked to stay at more affordable accommodation, he added.
The association expects the stranded tourists will eventually go home, leaving a deficit of tourists on the island.
Mr Kongsak said Indian and Saudi Arabian tourists are expected to visit parts of the kingdom in July and August, which may help fill the gap.
Russians had been the biggest group of arrivals in Phuket since Thailand reopened to international visitors in November, he said. However, the tourism situation will remain sluggish until the war is over, he added.
During the current low season, the average hotel occupancy rate in Phuket is 20%, with tourists visiting from European countries, Mr Kongsak said.
Thai tourists are also expected to visit parts of the country, including Phuket, during school breaks in April and October, he said.
However, the latest wave of coronavirus infections and the current economic situation may bring down tourist numbers, he said.
"Phuket tourism campaigns are being carried out, and we hope that the occupancy rate will increase by 50 to 60% during Songkran [in April]," he said, looking at future visitor numbers.
Last week, a help centre was opened in Surat Thani for more than 3,000 stranded Russians, according to local authorities. The centre is coordinating assistance and receiving inquiries, which are forwarded to the Russian embassy in Bangkok, they said.
It is not known how long this group will stay.
On Tuesday, Ratchaporn Poolsawasdi, chairman of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, met Koh Samui district chief Chayapol Intharasupa to discuss ways of assisting the stranded Russian tourists.