“The liberation of the workers should be the work of the workers themselves” - this thesis of Karl Marx turned out to be close not to its original audience, but to Russian tourists, with whom representatives of the tourist industry could not pay off. The remaining debt to them for tours that did not take place due to the pandemic, the spring restriction of air traffic and partial mobilization is 2-3 billion rubles, according to estimates from the Association of Tour Operators of Russia. There was also a figure of 10 billion rubles.
But it turned out to be difficult to return the funds for the tourism industry: in early November, Turpomoshch again turned to the authorities with a request to extend the delays, at least for “covid” tours, until the end of 2023. But a fundamental decision on the procedure for settlements with customers has not yet been made.
If earlier the mood of tourists who were desperate to receive money for disrupted tours was illustrated by comments under the posts of the ex-head of Rostourism Zarina Doguzova, then with the liquidation of the agency, related departments replaced such a platform. Rospotrebnadzor recorded 8,000 complaints against tour operators, agents and hotels in the first nine months of the year. In the “calm” years of 2018-2019, an average of 6,000 consumers filed claims, for the entire last year - already 10,000. Frequent subjects of complaints are refusal to return funds, demand for additional payments, and a reduction in the period of rest.
In an effort to protect tourists, Rospotrebnadzor has developed a special memo for them. One of the points advises not to use the services of travel agents. But it is not easy to use it, since many tour operators sell 80-90% of their product through agents. And will it help? Market participants well remember the departure of Mouzenidis Travel, whose payout ratio to tourists was 5.04-13.83% of the funds paid for the tour.
Question: what, in fact, do tourists who still decide to go on vacation? Apparently - to take risks and rely on their own strength. The accumulated resentment of consumers can have far-reaching consequences directly for the tourism business. A good example is the housing construction market, where the problem of deceived equity holders, after a series of not the most effective attempts to reform the industry, was solved quite radically: developers were obliged to keep buyers' funds in escrow accounts until construction was completed. The reform was then initiated by Vladimir Putin. “We have had problems with deceived equity holders since as long as we can remember,” he said in 2017. Formally, the idea of transferring tour operators to escrow accounts has already sounded before and, perhaps, will soon begin to seem not so bad to officials.