Following an Al Jazeera report that claims Russians are “taking over” Phuket, Thai officials have looked into the numbers. And their findings claim there’s no takeover in progress.
Khaosod English reports that figures released by immigration officials show that between January and August 2023, Phuket welcomed 2,569,052 visitors. Of those, 487,504, or 19.34%, were Russian tourists. Officials say that most Russian arrivals came for short-term stays, with just 9,275, or 1.9%, living in Phuket on long-term visas.
The Al Jazeera report had cited concerns from local residents that Russian nationals were taking over businesses such as real estate, tourism, and ride-hailing apps. Some Thais have claimed that Russians are competing with them for jobs that by law, are reserved for Thai citizens.
The Royal Thai Police have provided statistics on criminal activities conducted by foreigners between January and August of this year. Of these, 635 cases involved foreign nationals, of which only 78, or 12.28%, were Russian. The majority of cases were work-related violations.
Meanwhile, officials say they have not found any evidence that Russians are working as taxi drivers either. In addition, 15 travel companies employing Russians were found to have the correct work permits in place. Out of 20 cases involving foreigners violating labour laws, only 3 involved Russians.
The president of the Phuket Tourism Business Association, Thanate Tantipiriyakij, says the increase in property prices can’t be blamed solely on the Russians, given that the majority are short-term holidaymakers and not living in Phuket.
In addition, Phuket Immigration chief Sermphan Srikong says officials have found no evidence of Russian mafia figures operating on the island.
SOURCE: Khaosod English