Russian entrepreneurs oust Thais from their native land?

Russian businessmen have crossed all borders both literally and figuratively. Thai entrepreneurs say that Russians oust them from the tourism industry. In the kingdom, there are many companies and businesses owned by Russian citizens. In this regard, the Thais conducted an anti-Russian protest action. How justified are their claims?

The rally was held earlier this week in Bang Tao resort, on the island of Phuket in Thailand. Several hundreds of local entrepreneurs took to the streets of the village, accompanied by taxi drivers, who also believed that the Russians were building obstacles for them in their own land. The businessmen of the kingdom were outraged about the activities of travel agencies, established by Russians, in particular Alex Tour. A sign with this name was torn off the company office on Monday during the protest action, The Phuket News wrote.

The protesters also walked past all buildings with Russian signs on them - "Marusya", "Matryoshka" and "Three Wild Boars" restaurant. Fortunately, all those Russian establishments were closed.

On the eve of the protest, Thai businessmen were handing out leaflets and posters, urging others to clean the island from the "Russian mafia" to "liberate" the locals. Russian businessmen were thus portrayed as occupiers of Thai businesses operating in the sphere of trade and services. Thai travel agents, restaurateurs, taxi drivers and even laundry owners allegedly suffer from Russians. However, local residents say that the Russians usually ask cheaper prices for their services, and therefore they should not be allowed to dump on the market in Thailand.

The Russians living in Thailand, in turn, were very surprised with the protest actions. They claim that the majority of Russians work in the Asian country legally, so local entrepreneurs use the term "Russian mafia" inappropriately. However, discovered, the leaders of the tourism industry look at the situation differently.

"In fact, the right of the Thais really violated, Russian citizens can not work legally in Thailand as guides," - said Nikolai Koziorov, CEO of ArtisSpace travel agency. "Most of our guides work illegally. And this is what the Thais are concerned about. Basically, there are good reasons for that, because they lose their jobs."

According to expert, the Thais have reasons to complain about. To get a job in a travel agency, they study Russian, and earn less than the Russians, as native speakers are more eloquent guides for tourists. In addition, Russian entrepreneurs try not only to open their own travel firms, but also buy local ones, thus taking away bread from the local people. The employment of Russian citizens in Thailand, as the expert said, is very often against the law.

"Under the laws of the majority of tourist countries, one should to obtain at least a license to be able to become a guide. Russians do not usually have any. This is a problem not only in Thailand but also in other countries, but it always gets solved somehow, " Nikolai Koziorov said. Some Russian guides will probably be caught and sent back to Russia, but most of them will remain to work in Thailand, he added.

Press secretary of Rostourism, Irina Shchegolkova, agrees with the travel industry representative. "In Egypt, for instance, before riots started there, local residents strongly protested against the opportunity for foreigners to take their jobs. There is a problem of training guides and drivers there, of course - they do not speak Russian very well. For Russian tourists, it is much more comfortable, when they speak Russian to a Russian guide, and when a guide speaks Russian to them. But of course, the Thais have a right to defend their country's economy and their jobs. Maybe they also need to think about how they can improve the quality of their services," the official said.

Indeed, local citizens should improve the tourism industry. The number of tourists from Russia has been growing rapidly in Thailand. A significant part of the Russians, who can afford to travel, do not know English, which is considered an international language. Consequently, it would be much better if the Thais would not go on the warpath with Russian businessmen, but offer their services in good Russian for Russians. Needless to say that no one knows the history and way of life in Thailand as deep as the indigenous population does.

Meanwhile, the relations between Thailand and Russia have become somewhat strained recently. "Over the recent years, the number of accidents that occur to Russian tourists in Thailand has grown considerably. It is about time Russia should sound the alarm. We have already informed the Thai authorities on this issue. Russian tourists in Thailand commit suicide, get in car accidents and suffer from street theft. We even discussed an opportunity to sign a formal agreement with the Thai authorities to guarantee safety to Russian citizens in Thailand," Irina Shchegolkova said.

Maria Snytkova.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov