Press-conference: on situation around tourist company Lanta Tour Voyage

Press-conference: on situation around tourist company Lanta Tour Voyage. Alexander Radkov, the head of Federal Agency of Tourism. The company Lanta-Tour was recently denied a non-significant credit. But look at the sum of this company’s debt! To its foreign partners alone it owed about 7 million dollars. This is a credit that was given by the Foreign Trade Bank. Let’s see how much it owes to the tourists, how much it owes to its counter-agents in Russia, and to the carriers. And here the sum is much higher. So the problem is that the company for quite a long time worked at a loss, covering a cash gap at the expense of the incoming payments of the clients. And this is not acceptable. These debts are accumulated as a snowball, and soon or late bankruptcy will come. We cannot predict all the bankruptcies on the market, and the state does not have to solve these financial problems of a specific economic subject. And they will not always give credits to every new bankrupt tourist operator – of course, if it does not consider it economically expedient. Therefore certain mechanisms must be elaborated, which will protect the tourist in any case. Unfortunately, the situation which our tourists faced while being abroad, in a number of countries, in a number of hotels, showed not only the imperfection of our legislation, but also of foreign legislation, which does not always allow the rights of foreign tourists in the country of their stay to be protected. We know that there were blatant cases of violations of the rights of tourists in hotels in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Italy. This is, of course, unacceptable. Of course, we have to take a number of serious steps directed at essential structural changes of the tourist market of the Russian Federation, in order not to allow the violation of tourists’ rights in future. Of course, we cannot shield the market from bankruptcies, because that’s business. Tourism is very sensitive to various nuances connected to political and economic crises, to natural catastrophes and those caused by incorrect management of business. But in any case the market must have mechanisms that allow the rights of tourists to be totally protected. In the Federal Agency Rostourism a “hotline” related to these events was operating. On the whole, from January 23 to February 13, Rostuurism received about 7 thousand calls. These were calls from tourists who were abroad, from those who bought tourist vouchers from Lanta Tour and could not leave. The main themes of the calls were “what is to be done if the hotel demands money?” “Will the operator return the money for the voucher?” The calls were related to some crisis situations or legal situations, legal questions. Currently the company InGosStrakh is continuing to receive appeals from aggrieved persons. Yesterday the number of such appeals was 2600 for a total sum of money of 90 million rubles. The register of the aggrieved is not yet closed, and the total number of the aggrieved and the total sum of money is still being clarified, but it is obvious that the sum of loss will exceed 100 million rubles. As the company InGosStrakh declares, the payments will be given proportionally, that is, when the register of the aggrieved and the lost sum will be calculated, the payments will be delivered proportionally. Of course, first of all we should understand that the legislation must be changed. The tour operator must be connected with its turnover, because the utmost sum, 100 million rubles, in some cases is not enough. Yet it is clear that the institute of financial responsibility of tour operators as such justified itself during these years. It is not our first case of bankruptcy, but, if we don’t count Capital Tour, the loss was completely compensated to other companies. Nonetheless, in such cases when a big tour operator goes bankrupt, it is clear that 100 million rubles is not enough, and here we should speak of increasing, not just increasing, but connecting the sum of financial responsibility with the turnover of a company. Perhaps we should move also towards creating self-regulating organizations. Why is this needed? We see that we must solve several main tasks, when a crisis situation occurs. What situations may occur? First of all, bankruptcy. These are various natural calamities, force-major circumstances connected to political crises abroad. Therefore we have two tasks: first, paying compensation to the people who returned to the country and did not receive a service, or did not yet leave the country because of the bankruptcy, or they were treated with low quality, and the tour operator is unable to fulfil its obligations and, correspondingly, the insurance company will compensate for the loss. And the second problem to be solved is how to return people in the case of a crisis situation. And for this purpose, of course, certain mechanisms must be created, mechanisms related to involving financial funds, compensation funds, with the help of which we could effectively solve the problem of returning the tourists home. So in our view, the creation of self-regulating organizations and the creation of special funds within such organizations would allow such problems to be solved. Certainly, it is necessary to introduce changes in the code of administrative transgressions, maybe even to the Criminal Code, related to tightening of responsibility of subjects for illegal tour-operating activities. Today we’ll discuss some more measures which could establish discipline in the tourist market. So we speak of automatized counting of tourist vouchers, because sometimes tour operators use not quite “white” schemes of work, and often turnovers are being understated. And of course, in order to adequately evaluate the company’s turnovers, there should be certain mechanisms. For example, the introduction of universal electronic vouchers, the unification of contracts between the customer and the company, which forms the tourist product; between the tour agent and the tour operator, will allow the market to break free of grey schemes. In our view, these measures will allow for increasing transparency of the tourist market.

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