MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Russia’s biggest travel companies suspended sales of tours to China due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, in line with earlier recommendations by Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism), the Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) said in a statement.
"In line with the January 24 recommendations issued by Rostourism, Russian tour operators suspended sales of tours to China," the statement says, adding that flights to China have not been cancelled.
In its recommendations issued on Friday, Rostourism advised Russian tourists to avoid visiting China. Russian travel agents were recommended to suspend sales of tours to China until the epidemiological situation in the country is back to normal. Tourists willing to cancel their upcoming trip are entitled to full compensation.
Meanwhile, a source close to Rostourism told TASS evacuation of Russian tourists from China has not been discussed so far, .
"Evacuation has not been discussed yet, they will return as scheduled," the source said.
China was the fourth most popular destination among Russian tourists in the first nine months of 2019, a spokesperson for the Russian Travel Industry Union, Irinua Tyurina, told TASS. The tropical resort island of Hainan is the most popular destination in China among Russians.
According to ATOR Executive Director Maya Lomidze, about 6,000-7,000 Russian tourists are currently in China, and some 5,000-6,000 of them are staying on Hainan.
On December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of the new type of pneumonia in Wuhan, a city with a population of more than 11 million people. The culprit - 2019-nCoV coronavirus - was identified on January 7, 2020.
According to the latest data, about 900 people were infected with the new disease in China, and 26 of them died. The coronavirus is also identified in Vietnam, South Korea, the United States, Singapore and Japan. On January 23, the WHO refrained from declaring an international emergency over the outbreak of the virus that originated in China.