Bring back what is not
The State Duma has prepared a draft amendment to the law “On the Basics of Tourism Activities”. He proposes to extend tour operators the terms of refunds to clients on tours canceled due to coronavirus until 2023.
“The bill has already been developed, it was created with the assistance of the Russian Union of Travel Industry and is awaiting expert assessment. Today there is a need to synchronize the return of funds to tourists on failed tours with the return to tour operators of freight charges for failed transfers, ”said Sergei Krivonosov, deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, to Gazeta.Ru.
According to the deputy, air carriers have the right to return money to tour operators within three years from the date of the canceled flight, that is, the latter will receive refunds in the pandemic 2020 until 2023. At the same time, the tour operators themselves must pay customers money for failed tours by the end of 2021.
“A situation is being created in which tour operators will need to return money to tourists by the end of 2021, which they themselves will receive from carriers at the end of 2023,” the parliamentarian explained.
“There will be certainty”
“But the decision by the operational headquarters to temporarily restrict air traffic with Turkey entailed a sharp increase in the amount of deferred obligations. According to market experts, from mid-April to the end of May, more than half a million Russians planned to visit Turkish resorts, who purchased package tours worth more than 32 billion rubles, “he added.
Other popular mass outbound destinations remain closed, the expert noted. And the possibility of replacing tours with domestic routes is limited due to the rise in prices for accommodation services. In addition, high-quality rooms for the summer are mostly booked.
“As a result, the opportunities for tour operators to return funds for tours that did not take place in 2020 are sharply reduced, and this is fraught with massive consumer conflicts. Moreover, the postponement of the obligations of tour operators established by the decree does not apply to tours that did not take place due to the restriction of air traffic with Turkey and Tanzania in 2021. The extension of the deferral of obligations and its extension to all tours that did not take place in 2020 and 2021 will allow tour operators to survive in the current difficult conditions, ”Ignatiev said.
If the bill is adopted, tourists will have significant certainty about the prospects for paid vacations, the president of the PCT believes.
“They will understand that sooner or later they will be able to exercise their right to rest or receive their money. If tourists massively cancel postponed tours and demand a refund, this can provoke the bankruptcy of tour operators. And in this case, consumers run the risk of not getting anything – no tours, no money, ”he said.
“We are still waiting for the opening of popular summer destinations – Egypt, Tunisia and Cyprus. If they or other foreign destinations, which may be massive and in demand among tourists, do not open before September, tour operators will not be able to fulfill their obligations and will need to be extended. But while we are still waiting for the opening of directions. It all depends on how the events will develop, ”she said.
Tourists are not encouraged by the prospect of getting money in two years. “I bought a tour to Italy back in 2020. I didn’t want to change, my dream was to get there. The money was returned to me only recently. I can imagine how people who hope to close history this year will feel, and they will have to wait until 23rd year. No one has extra money, and tours are not cheap, ”said Karina Melikyan, a Muscovite.
Emergency will give the right
The likelihood of another exacerbation of the epidemic situation and the occurrence of other emergencies requiring restrictions in the field of tourism exists in the future, said Deputy Sergei Krivonosov.
In this regard, the bill gives the government the right, in the event of a threat or emergencies, the introduction of a high alert regime throughout the country or in certain regions, to establish the specifics of the execution of agreements on the provision of hotel services and the sale of tourist products.
In the event of an emergency, they will be able to postpone the reservation or refuse to fulfill the contract unilaterally and return the amount paid to the customer. If the customer himself wants to terminate the contract, the contractor will also be obliged to return the money to him. The return period will be set by the Cabinet.