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Coronavirus will not comptetely halt Russian tourism industry, says expert

Small and medium-sized companies are now in the most difficult situation

MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. The difficulties encountered by tour operators and travel agencies due to the situation with coronavirus will not lead to a complete halt in the tourism industry, but some companies will leave the market, Executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) Maya Lomidze said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"The whole industry cannot die. It is clear that it will come out of this crisis greatly changed, there will be fewer companies. They will not go bankrupt in the alarmist context that usually accompanies this concept - thousands of dissatisfied tourists, problems with export and import - some companies will just simly leave the market, and not only because there are certain difficulties with profitability, but also because the have accumulated a certain fatigue. According to our estimates, about 30% will leave the market by summer," she said.

Accorrding to Lomidze, small and medium-sized companies are now in the most difficult situation. Large companies will survive the situation, she believes, since they have a larger "safety net", had more directions to offer. "They will just become stronger. The market has been mobilized and is not going to curtail - this applies, first of all, to large companies," she said.

At the same time, she noted that internatioanl tourism in Russia will receive 25 bln rubles ($321.52 mln) of losses, domestic - 12 bln rubles ($154.33 mln), if most of the tourist destinations do not open before September. "According to our estimates, international tourism will lose about 25 bln rubles, domestic tourism - about 12 bln rubles if the current situation persists," she said.

According to Lomidze, the most effective decision for the industry from the package of measures proposed by the Russian government to support industries affected by the spread of coronavirus in Russia and the world, may be cancelling contributions to a reserve fund. By law, tour operators must pay 0.1% of the turnover for the previous year.

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in more than 150 countries, including Russia.

On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic. As of now, over 410,000 people have been infected around the world and more than 18,000 have died. Russia has identified 658 cases, 29 patients have recovered. The Russian government has launched an Internet hotline to keep the country’s people informed about the coronavirus situation.