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MOSCOW, February 1 (Itar-Tass) —— About 1,500 customers of cash-strapped Lanta Tur Voyage tour operator remain abroad, Minister of Sport and Tourism Vitaly Mutko said.
“According to the lists we got from the company, there are 1,416 people there, but since companies do not always work legally, there may apparently be some people who are not on the lists. This is why we think that their number is slightly bigger,” Mutko said on Wednesday, February 1, referring to tourists in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.
However, Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) spokesman Oleg Moseyev said earlier that about 3,000 tourists who have bought tours from Lanta Tur Voyage were staying abroad.
“We have found out that more Lanta Tur customers are abroad than we thought before. Earlier we spoke of 1,500 people, but our updated reports indicate that a total of 3,000 customers of this tour operator are in Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Vietnam,” he said.
According to Mutko, Lanta Tur Voyage, one of the biggest tour companies in Russia, has suspended operations because of big debts. “This is why the bank refused to give it a loan to repay the debt,” he added.
Master Bank's refusal to issue a loan to Lanta Tur Voyage led to the latter's bankruptcy, Russian Union of Tourist Industry (RST) spokeswoman Irina Tyurina confirmed earlier.
“Aeroflot refused to issue tickets to Lanta Tur customers until the tour operator pays the debt, but Master Bank denied a loan to the company. The cash gap was so big that the company could not help the situation and had to close down,” she said.
Mutko expressed hope that Lanta Tur Voyage would get a loan of 50-70 million roubles and would resume payments.
On Thursday, February 2, the Ingosstrakh insurance company will start paying compensation to tourists who have bought their tours for coming months but can’t use them because of the company’s financial problems.
“We will offer a number of measures in order to avoid such situation in the future. The market should create self-regulated organisations and its own insurance fund,” the minister said.
“On the whole, the industry works well,” he said.
Lanta Tur Voyage is one of the biggest companies in the Russian market. It unexpectedly stopped all operations on Friday, January 27. The company has been in business for more than 12 years, selling tours to such countries as Thailand, Vietnam and India.