Visit Ukraine CEO: where are Russian tourists not welcome now?

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Visit Ukraine CEO: where are Russian tourists not welcome now?

Visit Ukraine CEO: where are Russian tourists not welcome now?

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Due to the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, Russians risk staying home this summer or, at most, going to Anapa or Sochi. The trend towards cancelling anything Russian is not just a symbolic gesture of condemnation by foreign tourism officials: sometimes they are simply forced to deny Russian citizens because tourists from other countries want to rest without Russians. The Iron Curtain is descending lower and lower for Russians, even where they have always been expected in the summer.


Visit Ukraine CEO Anton Taranenko tells what to expect this season at the resorts and whether we will meet there with the "brotherly" people.


Air connections


Almost immediately, major European airlines began to stop flights to Russia, including Poland's LOT, Britain's British Airways, the Netherlands' KLM, Germany's Lufthansa, France's Air France, Finland's Finnair, Hungary's Wizz Air, South Korea's Korean Air and many others. At the beginning of March, single flights of these airlines could still be seen in the schedules of Russian airports, but these were their last flights to take away planes and their citizens.


Already on February 27, the European Union announced airspace closure for aircraft owned, registered or controlled by Russia. This means that neither private planes of Russian oligarchs, nor charters with ordinary Russians, nor cargo ships can get to 27 EU countries.


In addition, the airspace for Russian aircraft was closed by Great Britain, Moldova, Finland, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Iceland, Canada, Switzerland and the United States. A total of 36 countries.


On April 11, the European Commission officially blacklisted two dozen Russian airlines. They are not allowed to cross European airspace due to non-compliance with safety issues.


And although the occupying country has a lot of impudence and has already applied to the Swedish Transport Authority for permission to operate regular flights Moscow - Stockholm / Arlanda - Moscow in the summer of 2022, it was strongly denied.


Due to the rapid closure of the sky on almost the entire continent at once, many Russians are literally stuck abroad. And, for example, the Russians in Cyprus were taken out only in early May.


Also on April 18, all European ports were officially closed to Russian ships. The ban applies to all vessels registered under the Russian flag, as well as those that changed the registration of the Russian Federation after February 24.


Prices and calculations


Another problem for Russians traveling is the inability to pay for basic services abroad or withdraw cash at ATMs, as the world's leading international payment systems Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations in Russia and servicing cards issued by Russian banks. Online payments for buying tickets, booking tours, etc. have also become a big problem.


So far, only 10 countries in the world recognize their own Mir payment system, and most of them are difficult to classify as tourist ones. And although one of them is Turkey, in practice Mir does not always work there. For example, the largest Turkish aircarrier, Turkish Airlines, has stopped accepting the Mir cards altogether.


There is an increase in tour prices in countries still open to Russians, which have risen sharply due to the weakening ruble against the dollar and euro. In particular, according to analytical data of VisitUkraine.Today, vacation in Turkey has become about 70% more expensive, and in Egypt - by 55%.


The imposed sanctions have also led to a significant increase in the price of air tickets in Russia for domestic and "authorized" international flights. Sometimes this amount has doubled or tripled, which has reduced demand significantly.


A difficult situation has arisen for Russian tour operators engaged in professional outbound tourism. If in 2019 there were more than 600 legal entities in the Federal Register of Tour Operators, in April 2022 there were less than 300.


Visas


Further the countries stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens. Among them are Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, and Japan. It is very difficult for Russians to obtain visas to the United Kingdom, Slovenia and South Korea, and one by one they are denied. Portugal and Greece have canceled investment programs that allow Russians to "buy" a residence permit in those countries, and Cyprus has stopped issuing Russians pro=visas for one-time entry into the country. At the EU level, they also announced the abolition of so-called privileged entry (visa facilitation) for Russian diplomats and businessmen.


Poland is also lobbying for the abolition of Schengen visas for Russians (except for humanitarian ones). This means the complete closure of access to the Schengen area, as they do not have a visa-free regime.


Attitude


There are also cases when Russians realize that they are not welcome, even if there was no official ban. For example, a spontaneous camp of refugees from Russia was formed on the border between Mexico and the United States. And most of them are disappointed with the fact that refugees from Ukraine are a priority. Russian citizens say they fled the country for fear of reprisals. And now they are forced to live in a camp on the border with Mexico and the United States, because they are not allowed into the country.


We have all heard many stories of Russians being denied a hotel or a rental property, a restaurant or a shop in one country or another. Even in Kazakhstan and Georgia, where Russians can still fly, they began to express outrage at the influx of Russians.


Travelers from Europe are demanding that hotels stop working with Russians. That is, they do not want to rest in the same area with Russian tourists. Due to this, for example, the Russian branch of TUI in Turkey, Tantur, was closed.


In addition, on April 27, as a result of systematic work by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the State Agency for Tourism Development, Russia was expelled from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).


Russia has been deprived of all rights and privileges, formally this means that the aggressor country:


will not be able to receive services from the Organization, including technical assistance;

will not be able to participate in any meetings or events of the UN WTO;

will not be able to nominate any candidates for work in the statutory bodies of the UN WTO;

will not be able to vote in elections to the UN WTO bodies;

will not be able to nominate candidates for the post of UN Secretary-General.


Crimea


The flow of Russians to the occupied Crimea has dropped by almost half. Sales of tours on the Crimean peninsula have virtually stopped. Demand for them decreased by 30-45%. As a result - (after annexation) Crimea for the first time was not included in the top 5 most popular domestic resorts for the May holidays. 


Among the reasons, market participants cite the ban from February 24 imposed due to the war in Ukraine on flights to occupied Simferopol and the fear of tourists because of the "terrorist threat".


A sharp drop in demand for the Crimea is recorded by booking systems - 18% in March-April against the usual 70-75%.