Thailand Considers Accepting Crypto From Russian Tourists



Thailand hopes to keep its tourism sector afloat during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict by considering accepting cryptocurrency payments from Russian tourists.

Reports indicated that the Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) are discussing alternative payment methods for visiting Russian tourists despite expanding Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

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Thailand is a popular destination for Russians. An estimated 4,000 tourists from the Russian Federation are still in Phuket, a favorite destination on the southern coast. Reports say that 300 to 400 Ukrainian visitors are also currently on the island.

With tourists’ cash dwindling after Visa and Mastercard blocked the use of Russian-issued cards outside the country, Thailand’s tourism sector is looking at cryptocurrency as an alternative payment option.

PTA president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said digital currencies are being considered as an emergency option if transacting in fiat is not possible.

He also suggested using the Russian card payment system Mir as another option for Thai businesses. Mir was developed immediately after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea when cards were blocked for the first time.

Others propose shifting to Unionpay, a Chinese payment platform to bypass sanctions.

Thailand has been pushing its tourism industry to attract cryptocurrency business. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced in November last year that it would target “newly-minted crypto millionaires” to revive its travel sector.

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Thailand lost lost nearly $80 billion due to Covid

The southeast Asian kingdom lost nearly $80bn in tourism-related revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It once boasted as many as 40m international arrivals per year before lockdown.

Early this week, legislators in Thailand relaxed tax laws on digital assets for investors and traders amid a boom in crypto activity in the Asian market.

The finance ministry said that due to an upsurge in crypto trading, it had decided to implement rules to promote investment in cryptocurrencies.

The move also comes after Thailand’s finance ministry announced last month plans to drop its 15% capital gains tax on cryptocurrencies after intense public opposition.

According to Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, crypto traders will be exempt from the 7% value-added tax (VAT) when trading on government-authorized exchanges. 

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