MOSCOW, January 16 (Itar-Tass) — All Russian tourists travelling on board the Costa Concordia cruise ship will return home within several days, chief of the Rostourism Department for International Cooperation Valery Korovkin told Itar-Tass.
“Now then temporary certificates [instead of passports, which were lost during the accident] are ready for practically everyone, tourists are starting to leave Italy,” Korovkin said on Monday. “They are all alive and sound,” the official added.
He recalled that the department “agreed with Aeroflot that the airlines would give vacant places free of charge for Russian citizens”. “On Sunday, six Russian citizens could leave Milan. Today four people will depart from Nice and on Tuesday five tourists will fly to Kazan,” he noted.
However, Korovkin declined to name the exact number of Russian tourists, who were currently in Italy. “We are trying to draw up documents as soon as possible and we watch the situation: people, who receive documents, decide themselves when they leave and what flight. There are those who wanted to continue the rest in Italy. But most Russian citizens will return home within two days,” the Russian official said.
In addition, he stressed, “Tour operators also make big contribution to the embassy staff. They are staying in the embassies and help draw up documents.”
Commenting on compensations, Korovkin noted, “If it necessary, Rostourism is ready to be involved in resolving issues related to damages recovery.”
Costa Crociere, the owner of the luxury cruise liner that ran aground off the coast of Italy, has offered tourists who booked trips for the Costa Concordia in January-February to pay their money back and a 30 percent loan for any voyage of the company until June 2012, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia said with reference to the company.
For passengers who booked their voyages for the Costa Concordia from Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma, Cagliari, Palermo and Civitavecchia will get a full return of the paid sum plus a 30 percent loan for voyage by any liner – Costa Luminosa, Costa Mediterranea, Costa Favolosa, Costa Serena or Costa Voyager, the company said.
“There have been no reports so far about the payment of compensations to those tourists, who were onboard the liner at the moment of the wreckage,” the Association said.
According to the president of Russian tourist company Neptun, whose tourists were onboard the wrecked liner, Valentin Yeliseyev, “at this moment the company cares about rescuing passengers of the Costa Concordia, therefore the issue of damage compensation has not been discussed in detail.”
He expressed confidence that “this issue will be resolved in favor of tourists, as Costa Crociere values its clients and reputation.”
“The Mediterranean voyages are very popular among Russian tourists,” Yeliseyev said. “In winter such voyages cost less, therefore many people book them during the New Year holidays,” he said noting that “one day before the wreckage a very big group of our tourists ended their voyage and left the ship at the port of Civitavecchia, where another four tourists boarded.”
“After the New Year holidays the demand is traditionally declining,” he said.
“All tourists of Neptun were rescued and sent to Rome, where the consulate will restore their documents. Some tourists have already received their documents, others are still waiting,” Yeliseyev said adding that at present, tourists were accommodated in Hilton Hotel in Rome. Within several days all of them will be able to return to Russia.
The Association of Tour Operators of Russia reminded that independent tourists have to apply for compensation to Costa Crociere, while tourists on organized tours can address to their tour operators for assistance.
According to the Russian state tourist agency, there were 108 Russian tourists and three crewmembers having the Russian citizenship onboard the Costa Concordia that wrecked on January 13 off Italy.