Holidays from hell
Major Russian tour operator Lanta Tour Voyage has halted all operations and filed for bankruptcy. The company’s problems came to head on Friday, when a 100 passengers due to leave from Moscow’s Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports were refused travel. The Deputy Head of the Russian Tourism Agency (Rostourizm), Grigoriy Sarishvili is in Thailand attempting to aid the 1500 holidaymakers stranded there. Many have been told they can’t leave because local hoteliers and airlines have not been paid by the tour operator. Experts are suggesting Lana Tour failed because it didn’t revolve its credit line at a number of Moscow banks. Some are surprised the company failed so dramatically. “In the tourism industry payments are usually made during the season or at the end of it”, Vladimir Kaganer, CEO of TezTour, told RBC Daily. “It’s unlikely that all the creditors demanded payment at the same time”. The Russian package tour business has been going through a rough patch. Several companies have gone to the wall in recent years. Tough competition and over supply have forced many companies to cut prices and sell packages at a loss. At the end of 2010 Capital Tour went bankrupt leaving 8,000 in the lurch. The “Good Travel Package Shop” which offered discount trips to the Caribbean, stopped operating and cancelled about 600 trips. Unlike Europe, where tour operators must provide a bond to repatriate and reimburse clients should the company go bankrupt, there is no such proviso in Russia. Tourists who are affected have to make their own provision for returning home at sometimes considerable cost.