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MOSCOW, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — Practically all the Russian tourists who found themselves stranded at alpine skiing resorts in Austria due to unprecedented snowstorms have returned home safely, executives at the Association of Tour Operators of Russia /ATOR/ told Itar-Tass.
“The expansive snowfalls that blocked about a thousand Russian tourists at Austrian resorts seem to have subsided and local road maintenance companies are plowing the snow actively at mountainous roads now,” a spokeswoman for the association said.
“Tour agencies have managed to send back home almost all the tourists whose tours have come to an end,” she said.
Oleg Mosseyev, the press service chief at the Federal Agency for Tourism /Rostourism/ confirmed the information saying: “Most tourists have already returned to Russia.”
“Although some Russians may still be spending time at Austrian resorts, they are the so-called individuals who organized their trips on their own and didn’t use the tour company services,” he said.
Tour operators admit that the individuals who have turned up in Austria amid the snowfalls may no doubt feel certain inconveniences and, in the first place, the ones related to finance, as they have to pay extra fees for hotels and even buy new air tickets.
“There’s not enough transport capacity now while airfares have made a big jump,” the ATOR spokeswoman said.
According to Oleg Mosseyev, the Russian holidaymakers have not made a single emergency call at Rostourism’s hot telephone line from Austria even though the situation there is really complicated right now. Experts explain for the fact saying the tour operators have reacted promptly to the events there while the tourists themselves have shown understanding of the situation.
In the meantime, Austrian tourist authorities say all the rescue and repair teams have managed to remove snow from virtually all the automobile roads by now and all the autobahns are open for traffic, too.
Austria’s national meteorological service has said the snowstorms are close to getting exhausted. Weather forecasts suggest the temperature at alpine resorts will most likely be at 4 to 5 degrees Celsius in the coming few days.
Rostourism officials say more than 135,000 Russian tourists visited Austria last year, marking a noticeable increase versus the 96,000 or so tourists who went there in 2009. The demand for Austrian resorts among the Russians is especially high during the New Year holidays when the greater part of Russian citizens have ten-day vacations at home.
At that the time, the share of Russian tourists at Austrian resorts rises to 20% to 30%.