President of the National Union of the Hospitality Industry (UIG) Alexey Volkov said that tourists are canceling hotel reservations in the Crimea due to the distribution of information by airlines about the cancellation of flights. According to him, the cancellations are massive.
“Last week there was a mailing from Ural Airlines and Aeroflot that flights in June would not take place and bookings by air were cancelled. From all May and June bookings [около] 10% “flew off” just in a week. The depth of bookings, which is in July and August, remains in the region of 40-60% simply because there is still an expectation of the launch of air traffic in the high season, ”Volkov said.
He added that many tourists are ready to travel to Crimea by rail, but the tickets are already sold out.
“There are no tickets for June now, there are no tickets for May, how we are going to close this task is not clear,” he said. In this regard, according to Volkov, it is necessary to support the Crimean business and send tourists to the peninsula by rail, including a “single ticket”, using buses, as this issue was resolved taking into account the crossing after 2014.
The inability to fly to Crimea has the greatest impact on the loading of four- and five-star hotels, the head of OSIG added. Tourists who prefer to stay in them, as a rule, get to the place of rest exclusively by plane. In the current situation, this category of tourists will rather choose Sochi or Turkey.
As for the Krasnodar Territory, according to Volkov, there are no mass cancellations here, but the occupancy of hotels in Anapa is no more than 60%, which is less than the same period in 2021, since there is no air connection with Anapa and Krasnodar.
However, soon after the publication of Volkov’s interview, the Federal Tourism Agency denied reports of a wave of cancellations of tours to the Crimea. The department said that for the May holidays, the peninsula remains on the list of the most popular resorts among Russians. The average occupancy of hotels during the May holidays is at least 50%. In the segment of four- and five-star hotels, the occupancy is about 75%, and in sanatoriums – 70%. The press service also added that vacation bookings for May-June in Crimea are at the level of 2021, which, as noted, was a record in terms of tourist flow.
The Free Press tried to figure out how things really are with the tourist season. Judging by the comments of experts, the truth is somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, there really are cancellations due to logistical difficulties, on the other hand, tourists who have been taught by two years of the pandemic are more relaxed about uncertainty and possible difficulties, and, as SP told Sergey Romashkin, Vice President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) and General Director of the Dolphin Tour Operator, ready to get to the peninsula by alternative means.
“We have import substitution, and now we need an air substitution program,” says Sergey Romashkin. – This applies not only to the Crimea, but also to two other important airports on the Black Sea – Anapa and Gelendzhik. But many times more trains go to Anapa than to the peninsula. I am surprised by a certain passivity of Russian Railways, because so far only two direct trains from Moscow go to Crimea, there are only about 500 seats in them. During this time, it would be possible either to add wagons to the special designated carrier “Grand Express”, which is engaged in transportation to the Crimea, or to install its own trains. Anapa has many more trains in terms of railways than Simferopol. Therefore, it is necessary to increase rail transportation, as well as use other delivery routes to the Crimea.
On May 28-29, our company launches bus transportation to the Crimea from Moscow three times a week, and not to Simferopol, but immediately to Alushta or Yalta. Such a move will cost approximately 9,500-10,000 rubles in both directions. The road will take 25-26 hours, depending on the congestion of the route. It seems to us that this is a good auxiliary option, but we would like more activity of the railway workers.
In fact, already last year, Crimea received 60% of the flow via the Crimean Bridge by private vehicles. I emphasize that we are not talking about buses, but about our own cars. Perhaps this year the proportion of such tourists will increase. Personal arrivals, bus transportation and an increase in Russian Railways traffic would give us the opportunity, if not to maintain, then minimally sag in the tourist flow.
“SP”: – Is it true that the cancellation of flights will hit the flow of wealthy tourists the most?
– Of those who arrive by personal transport, we see quite expensive cars and wealthy people. They do not travel by car in order to save on the flight, although there are savings too. It’s just that for a modern tourist, a car is an integral part of the holiday, it gives mobility and the opportunity to visit different places. In advanced markets, this is solved with the help of rental, but in Crimea this service is not yet sufficiently developed and there are not enough cars during the season.
“SP”: – How much will bus tours to the Crimea be in demand? Still, you can’t go by bus from Vladivostok to the south of Russia …
– In fact, the European part of Russia gave Crimea 80-85% of tourists. The first place is occupied by Moscow and the region, then comes St. Petersburg and the region, then other regions. For a modern tourist, a day on the bus is the limit. We asked people before starting the bus if they would like to move overnight, but almost no one agreed to this. It is clear that tourists will not go by bus to Crimea from Yekaterinburg.
We already have experience with such bus transportation, but five years ago, their point was that a bus is much cheaper than a flight. Now we have nothing to compare with. Although I can say that it will be cheaper to travel by bus than by train, because a compartment ticket from Moscow costs 7-9 thousand one way.
“SP”: – Returning to the informational occasion, is there still a wave of cancellations in Crimea or not?
– Those who planned flights are now canceling them and thinking further. In fact, the process of annulment did not begin today. When the airport closed, we had tours booked for every week of the year. Accordingly, the first week was removed first, then the second, and so on. The process proceeded evenly as the restrictions on flights were extended. We have not yet encountered cancellations of bookings for June, tourists did not inform us about the cancellation of flights. If flights resume, all this will be easy to catch up.
Now the May holidays are under attack. Because if you are going to the Crimea for a few weeks in the summer, you can spend two days moving back and forth. But if you’re only going for three days, there’s no way you can spend most of it on the road. The Maiskys turned out to be noticeably worse on the peninsula than a year ago.
Let’s see what will happen next. But I can say that tourists are in no hurry to cancel something. The coronavirus pandemic has taught them that they do not need to twitch at every closure. Let me remind you that over the past two years, Crimea, like other tourist regions, opened and closed three or four times. Tourists have become much less nervous, so those with tickets and vouchers are now waiting for the resumption of flights and, perhaps, will wait.
Yesterday there was positive news – the administration of the Tambov region announced that Tambov will fly from May 16, and it is also included in the list of closed airports. If this is the first sign, perhaps the situation will change in a positive direction.
If we assume that people will go by themselves or by bus, we are waiting for the necessary steps from the relevant departments. It is clear that we will not be able to expand the roads, but we can stop the repair work for the summer. Large-scale construction projects are seriously hindering the movement of tourists to the south, and this activity should be reduced for at least three months.
Executive Director of the Alliance of Travel Agencies Natalya Osipova She said that despite the closure of the Simferopol airport, interest in recreation in the Crimea remains high.
– For now, we proceed from the fact that air traffic with Crimea has been suspended. There is an alternative in the form of a railway connection, and if there are more applicants than originally thought, it means that the number of trains needs to be increased, this is already a question for Russian Railways. There are also buses and private vehicles.
If we talk about alternative recreation in other regions, we have opened airports in Sochi, in Minvody, which are now very popular. Also popular destinations are Kaliningrad and Dagestan, Chechnya and Belarus are in demand, where they mainly go for treatment. By train you can get to Anapa.
But everyone who wanted to go to Crimea is looking for an opportunity to get there. There is a drop in sales, but not because people do not want to go to the peninsula, but because of logistical difficulties. The demand for it was and remains high, I can say that we have a lot of calls in Crimea. There is a wonderful sanatorium treatment, and people go there to relax and be treated.