Large tour operators need to revise their presence on Russian market

Large tourism holdings with the Turkish involvement will have to revise their presence on the Russian market amid the economic sanctions against Turkey

Large tourism holdings with the Turkish involvement will have to revise their presence on the Russian market amid the economic sanctions against Turkey, Russian Union of Travel Industry press secretary Irina Tyurina told the Interfax-Tourism portal on Nov. 29.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to impose restrictive measures on Turkey on Nov. 28. The sanctions include a ban on charter flights to Turkey and the selling of Turkish tours and the introduction of a visa regime on Jan. 1, 2016. The activity of Turkish entities in Russia will be limited, and Russian companies will be prohibited to hire Turkish citizens from January 1, 2016.

"Large tour operators with Turkish roots are members of holdings. These holdings will now have to decide whether their further work in Russia makes sense," Tyurina said.

"In the context of tourism business, they are very large companies employing 300 to 500 people, mostly Russian citizens. If they decide to withdraw from the market, these people will lose their jobs. If these companies continue to work here, they will have to shrink anyway and this will lead to redundancy dismissals," she added.

Besides, she did not rule out that many tour agencies which had lost two best selling destinations - Turkey and Egypt (flights to Egypt were suspended on Nov. 6 after the bombing of the Kogalymavia charter flight on the Sinai Peninsula) - within the past two months would have to stop their operations.

Tyurina pointed out that large tourism companies, including those with origins in Turkey, were the first to offer package tours to Russian resorts last summer. So, the possible withdrawal of these companies will reduce the spectrum of Russian tours, triggering expansion of independent tourism and shrinking of the organized tourism segment.

In turn, Federal Tourism Agency head Oleg Safonov told the Interfax-Tourism portal that tourism holdings with the Turkish participation would now have to act in the interests of Russia.

"Indeed, there are large Russian tour operators with Turkish capital. The structure of their assets will need to be analyzed. Those tour operators were obviously working in the interests of Turkey. They were actually pumping money from Russia into Turkey; they built a whole system for doing so and it was highly efficient through all these years. Now tour operators will be working in the interests of our country," Safonov said.

Relations between Russia and Turkey exacerbated after the Turkish Air Force downed Russia's Sukhoi Su-24 bomber. The Russian and Turkish foreign ministers recommended citizens to abstain from visits to each other's countries, and Russia imposed economic sanctions on Turkey on Nov. 28.

Read more: Russia-Turkey crisis: What do ordinary citizens think?

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