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Visa exemption for Russian tourists shortened to 60 days

Russian arrivals Phuket
PHOTO: Russians arriving at Phuket International Airport

The Thai government has confirmed that visa-free entry for Russian tourists, which was due to expire at the end of this month, will be extended extended. But, from May 1, the maximum period of stay is being reduced from 90 to 60 days.

With the low season kicking in and international tourism numbers taking a dip, the government is anxious to keep the economy and tourism revenue growing. Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke says extending visa-free entry for Russian visitors reflects the government’s “ongoing commitment to international relations and tourism”.

Despite agreeing to extend the visa-free entry scheme for Russians, the government has nevertheless decided to shorten the maximum period of stay by 30 days. There is speculation in some corners that this may be the result of various negative incidents involving Russians, particularly in Phuket, which sparked complaints of “overtourism” and ‘bad behaviour” from locals.

In addition, there has been a spate of arrests recently, involving Russians who had set up fake businesses using Thai nominees. Some businesses were shell companies used to obtain work permits and visas for foreign nationals, while at least one Russian has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering.

There has been additional speculation that many of the Russians coming to Thailand, and Phuket in particular, are doing so to avoid military conscription in their home country.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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