In social networks, messages from Russians are increasingly appearing about refusals to leave Russia for them due to partial mobilization. Vestnik ATOR turned to tour operators with a request to tell if their tourists have encountered similar situations. Despite the fact that there are very few real refusals, tourists are panicking and cancellations are growing.
WHICH TOURISTS ARE NOT LEFT OUT OF RUSSIA AND ARE THERE MANY OF SUCH CASES
Russians liable for military service, even those who did not receive a summons after the announcement of partial mobilization, began to be denied exit from Russia on the basis of the Law on mobilization training. Messages with such content began to appear more and more often on social networks.
Very few of the general flow of those traveling abroad these days face this, judging by the number of messages, and mostly they are independent tourists. Theoretically, if there is no agenda, a person is not on the lists for mobilization, and there are no other restrictions on leaving (for example, for debts, alimony, etc.), then there should be no obstacles at the border. What is the actual practice?
In one of the largest networks of travel agencies in Russia, 1001 Tour, the editors reported that since September 21 they managed to send several thousand clients of various tour operators abroad.
“Our managers have not received any information about the trip of any of this number of tourists that did not take place due to mobilization,” the 1001 Tour said. This information is confirmed by a number of other network agencies: nthe last few days, all flights of organized tourists have been regular.
Six tour operators interviewed by ATOR Vestnik (ANEX Tour, PEGAS Touristik, Intourist, Russian Express, PAC Group, PAKS – collectively they send several thousand tourists abroad every day) reported, since the announcement of partial mobilization none of their clients have lost their planned vacation due to a sudden “reversal” by border guards.
“We have not yet had a single case of refusal to cross the border. A group of travel agents flew out yesterday as part of a promotional tour. The men were asked only one question: “when did they buy the tour and how long do they fly,” said a representative of the PAX tour operator.
But there are exceptions: Space Travel said that some of their tourists still faced a travel ban. Of the hundreds of tourists sent over the past two days, there are few of these – isolated incidents, but they are. All these refusals were among young people (25-30 years old), due to their presence in the lists for mobilization.
TO THE AIRPORT – IN THREE HOURS, WITH YOURSELF – PRINTED DOCUMENTS FOR THE TOUR
“Yes, all our tourists successfully flew abroad on the 24th and 25th without delay. But everyone needs to know that when crossing the state border, male tourists of military age are asked when the tour was booked, they are asked to present a voucher for accommodation and a return ticket. We recommend that tourists print all these documents to avoid misunderstandings,” Intourist reports.
“For tourists flying abroad, we strongly recommend that you now arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance and have all printed documents for the tour with you – tickets or itinerary receipts there and back, a voucher, and possibly a tour agreement. This is necessary in order to cross the border as early as possible, allowing time for an interview with a border service officer. Unfortunately, there have already been, although so far isolated cases, when there were no complaints or prohibitions against tourists, but such conversations ended on such a note already when boarding the plane was completed. To avoid such situations, come to check-in as early as possible,” says ATOR Vice President, General Director of Space Travel Artur Muradyan.
CANCELATIONS GROW, MANY FROM REASON FOR THE FEAR OF DENIED DEPARTURE OR THE POSSIBILITY OF BORDER CLOSING
However, if only a few organized tourists have faced a ban on leaving Russia, then the situation with cancellations is much more complicated. They exist and will continue to grow. Experts say that there are requests for cancellations not only for near dates, but also for distant ones. Someone asks to move the return date of departure.
Russian Express says that now there are cancellations, and they mainly come from families in which one of the tourists actually received a summons. The company cannot call mass cancellations precisely because of the agenda received by the tour participant.
However, tour operators say, there are many requests for cancellation from tourists who did not receive the agenda at all. Here we are already talking about panic, generated by the lack of explanations from the federal authorities regarding the procedure for traveling abroad and the rules for canceling tours if a person falls under mobilization.
“Yes, tourists are panicking. They constantly call and write and even cancel tours without having a summons in hand. For example, simply because “they are scared now.” There were cases of cancellation even of promotional tours from women. They explain this by the fact that their husbands or brothers “may fall” under mobilization and therefore they want to be close,” the PAKS described the situation.
Travel retail representatives interviewed by the ATOR Vestnik ” describe a similar picture to that presented by tour operators. They characterize the current mood of tourists in one word: “panic”.
“Applications are being cancelled. There are no new sales. The tourists are panicking, we can't calm them down. Yes, if the agenda has arrived, everything is clear. But many refuse tours, fearing the closure of borders. But this is not even a question, only rumors in social networks. It is difficult for us to explain to tourists who are not subject to mobilization that they will not be restricted from leaving,” a large network of travel agencies said.
Space Travel now estimates the combined volume of these “panic” and tour cancellations in which the tour member received a subpoena at 30% of the volume of tours sent in the week prior to the news of the partial mobilization.
“Many tourists who have not even received a summons do not understand what will happen to their tours, “if anything” (they mobilize a relative, close the border for men, etc.). Naturally, they are afraid of losing money, they do not have a clear picture of what will happen in this or that case. We need clear, detailed explanations and rules from the federal authorities. And quite urgently,” says ATOR Vice President for Outbound Tourism, General Director of Space Travel Artur Muradyan.
Until the clarifications of the federal authorities, tour operators operate in matters of cancellations strictly according to the law. So, in Intourist, tourists who want to cancel tours are explained that cancellations of tours will be carried out on a general basis under an agreement (that is, with the deduction of actually incurred expenses), if there is no such circumstance as an agenda.
But even if there is an agenda, Artur Muradyan, the head of Space Travel, says that there are difficulties.
“For example, many foreign airlines and hoteliers have already announced that they will consider each case of such a refusal “individually”, with requesting a large package of documents,” he says.
And if there are chances in the case of tourists with a summons, then foreign suppliers are unlikely to refund the cost of the ticket to tourists who refuse the tour “just in case”, without a summons and hotel. Their refusal will be a confirmation of the tour operator's actual expenses incurred.
Experts urge tourists not to succumb to panic, not to “close” the borders on their own and not to prohibit themselves from leaving Russia, if there are no objective reasons for this (for example, actually received agendas). Trust only verified information. ATOR Bulletin always keeps you up to date with current events.