MOSCOW, February 1 (Itar-Tass) — Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai asked the ministers and heads of national tourism organizations of eight countries to help settle the situation with Lanta-Tour clients, spokesman for the Rosturism Federal Tourism Agency Oleg Moseyev told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
In his letters, Rifai noted that it was inadmissible for hotels to withhold the passports of the Russian tourists or prevent them from leaving for their homeland.
If hotels act in such a manner, this situation becaomes an example of unprofessional settlement of problems. Tourists should not suffer as a result of companies' financial disputes, the secretary general said adding that hopefully, the tourism authorities of these countries share his position.
The World Tourism Organization chief urged the tourism ministers and heads of the national tourism administrations to deal with the hotels and travel agencies that are violating Russian tourists' rights.
The letters with lists of the hotels where tourists' rights were violated were sent to the heads of national tourism administrations of Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia, Cuba, Mexico, Thailand and the Czech Republic.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Minister of Sports and Tourism Vitaly Mutko to settle the problems of the Russian tourists who had gone abroad under contracts with Lanta-Tour Voyage operator.
Lanta-Tour Voyage, one of Russia's largest tour operators, unexpectedly suspended its activity on January 27. The company announced bankruptcy when the Master Bank denied it a credit line. As a result, thousands of Russian tourists were unable to fly from Russia. The company also failed to pay for the hotel accommodations of its clients who were already staying abroad.
The company operated for more than 12 years and mostly serviced such areas as Thailand, Vietnam and India.
Executive director of the association of Russia's travel agencies /ATOR/ Maya Lomidze earlier told Tass that only 1,000 Lanta Tour clients were entitled to full compensation. The rest of the tourists who are stranded abroad can only have their additional expenses compensated.