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Tour operators, insurers propose tourist aid fund at tourists’ expense

August 15, 2014, 10:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The fund’s money could be used for the evacuation of citizens in case of military operations, tsunami and other cataclysms

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© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

MOSCOW, August 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Representatives of the tourism business and insurance companies suggested tourists should fund their risks themselves, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said on its website on Friday.

“The duty may be levied during foreign passports’ issuance,” ATOR said. The fund’s money could be used for the evacuation of citizens in case of military operations, tsunami and other cataclysms. “At present, tour operators often do this,” ATOR said.

The fund is expected to be used as well if our operators association Turpomoshch (Tourist Assistance) has insufficient funds or in case of the air carrier’s bankruptcy.

As for the Turpomoshch fund, according to tour operators’ estimates, it should amount to at least 500 million roubles ($13.88 million) to evacuate from abroad 50,000 - 70,000 tourists at a time. Before the series of travel agencies’ bankruptcies in July - August 2014, the fund amounted to some 370 million roubles ($10.271 million).

“The market players say the amount of contributions to the Turpomoshch fund should be reconsidered. One of the proposals suggests the contribution by the charterers should by increased,” ATOR said.

Following a series of bankruptcies of Russian travel agencies, which affected thousands of Russian citizens, criminal cases were opened. The heads of two of the travel agencies - Labirint and Ideal Tour - have been put on the international wanted list. Since the middle of last July a group of travel companies have had to go out of business due to financial constraints, leaving more than 60,000 holiday-makers suspended. Criminal causes over fraud have been opened against five companies - Labirint, Roza Vetrov Mir, Ideal Tour, Neva and Expo Tour. Investigators say the owners of all firms had been aware of the heavy debts but kept selling vouchers to unsuspecting clients.

The last group of abandoned tourists who required evacuation due to travel firms’ bankruptcies arrived in Moscow by plane from Bulgaria on Tuesday. Earlier, Turpomoshch said the evacuation of all clients would cost $3.6 million.

To work out proposals on the industry reform, a working group has been formed that comprises representatives of a number of relevant departments and the market players.

The working group proposed the creation of the register of travel agencies the number of which at present is countless and obligate them to secure their liability by bank guarantees, insurance and deposits. Tour operators have also been urged to submit to the Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturism) their annual sales volume plans.

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