SME Bank warns of negative impact of Russian economic crisis

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BANGKOK, Jan 1 — The economic crisis of Russia is directly impacting tourism in Pattaya and Phuket, according to Salinee Wangtal, chairwoman of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank).

Ms Salinee said that Phuket was affected most seriously in the second half of last year, with incomes of local tour operators dropping by half due to the absence of Russian tourists.

She said the SME Bank rescued them by extending their repayment periods but the bank still required its debtors to continue paying interest in a timely manner. She also advised tour operators to cut their fees to woo clients for the sake of their survival in Russia’s critical time.

Vorapol Socatiyanurak, secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said that Russia, as a large crude oil producer, is facing big problems as oil prices and worldwide purchasing power are falling and more alternative energy is being developed.

He said Russia’s attempts to stabilize the value of its ruble currency were costly and concerned parties should monitor the export of Russian oil. However, the impact of Russian economic problems on Thailand should be limited.