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Russian travel agencies debt to tourists totals $612 mln —ATOR

About 1.3 million people were unable to go on vacation

MOSCOW, June 10. /TASS/. The debt of Russian tour operators on outstanding commitments to their clients after the restriction of trips to Turkey has reached 44 bln rubles ($612 mln), the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said in a statement.

"The deterioration of the epidemiological situation and as a result, the almost total cessation of tourists to Turkey in April was a serious blow for tourists and tour operators." ATOR says. 

According to the organization, the exclusion of the most popular foreign destination from the range of products brought tour operators’ liabilities to their clients to 44 bln rubles.

About 1.3 million people were unable to go on vacation, ATOR added.

"In fact, in terms of the volume of unfulfilled obligations, after the closure of Turkey, the Russian tourism industry was thrown back a year, to the indicators of spring 2020. Due to the fact that tour operators have nowhere to transfer canceled tours, ATOR turned to the head of government Mikhail Mishustin and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko with proposals to change the timing of the transfer and refund for failed tours," the association says.

ATOR also sent a letter to the head of the operational headquarters of the Russian government, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, with a request to consider the soonest resumption of air traffic with mass outbound tourist destinations, which will help operators reduce debts on unfulfilled obligations.

Currently, it is possible to travel for tourism purposes from Russia to 21 countries, but in fact, less than 10% of travel offers from 2019 are now available to Russian tourists, ATOR notes.

In order to survive, the national travel industry "needs mass destinations," which are ready to receive Russian tourists - Tunisia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus.

"All those tourists who wanted to rebook their overseas vacations to Russian resorts have already done so. Among the tourists who have now canceled their tours abroad due to restrictions on air traffic, according to an ATOR survey, more than 72% are waiting for the opening of their chosen foreign countries, 26% have chosen other foreign destinations, and only 3% are ready to consider changing to Russian resorts. Moreover, now there are practically no places left for these tourists in the resorts of the South of Russia," ATOR explained.

ATOR urges the authorities to resume flights to resorts of a number of foreign countries that have already declared their readiness to receive Russians without mandatory quarantine upon arrival (with negative PCR tests, certificates of the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 or confirmation of vaccination, or even with no requirements at all).

In particular, conditions for the entry of Russian citizens have already been announced by such popular tourist destinations as Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, and Tunisia.

Speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, head of the Federal Tourism Agency Zarina Doguzova said that the debts of Russian tour operators on tours canceled in 2020 due to coronavirus had decreased six times, from 44 billion to seven billion rubles ($97 mln). However, this year the liabilities of tour operators to tourists grew by 30 bln rubles ($416 mln) after the restriction of air traffic with Turkey.