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 Post subject: The perils of the Russian Tourists
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 08:52 
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Russian Travel Agent Closes

The Moscow Times 30 January 2012

At least 2,000 Russian tourists are stranded after Lanta-Tur Voyage, one of the country's biggest tour operators, went bankrupt, Interfax reported.

Lanta-Tur, which has been in business since 1991, said on its website that it halted operations because of a lack of funds.

At least 1,500 clients are stranded in Thailand and 500 in Goa, India, Interfax reported Saturday, citing the Federal Tourism Agency.

Local Russian officials were working over the weekend to help them return to Russia, the report said.

The agency appealed to the UN World Tourism Organization to help assist the tourists get home, RIA-Novosti reported.

Lanta-Tur, which sold foreign tours to about 100,000 Russians last year, was working with more than 8,000 travelers when it went bankrupt, Interfax said.


Failed Travel Agency 'Stole' From Tourists

The Moscow Times 01 February 2012 By Natalya Krainova

Investigators have opened a large-scale criminal fraud case against the management of one of Russia's largest tour operators, which left more than 3,500 clients stranded in Russia and abroad when it went bankrupt over the weekend.

The Investigative Committee suspects the management at Lanta-Tur Voyage of deliberately failing to pay for hotels and flights for its clients and pocketing their money, agency spokesman Vladimir Markin said Tuesday, according to RIA-Novosti.

Police in Thailand also have arrested the head of Lanta-Tur Voyage's office there for having an expired work permit, Viktor Kriventsov, Russia's honorary consul in Pattaya said, Interfax reported.

The company's bankruptcy led the Sport and Tourism Ministry to call a meeting with leading tour operators Tuesday to discuss how to reinforce regulation, RIA-Novosti reported.

About 3,000 Russian tourists remained stranded abroad as of Monday — including in Goa, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and Italy — while some tourists had managed to return home, the Federal Tourism Agency said on its website.

Aeroflot and Transaero have agreed to fly the stranded tourists home free of charge when vacant seats become available, RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday, citing the Federal Air Transportation Agency.

The bulk of the tourists waiting to return home are in Thailand, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic, the transportation agency said.

Lanta-Tur Voyage declared on its website that it was "suspending its activities due to an inability to finance the services ordered by tourists" and recommended its clients apply to insurance company Ingosstrakh to get their money back, the agency said Saturday.

As of Tuesday, Ingosstrakh said on its website that it had received more than 200 applications from Lanta-Tur Voyage clients.

Ingosstrakh had insured the tour operator for the sum of 100 million rubles ($3.3 million), which should be enough to pay for all the stranded clients, spokesman Vladimir Kleimyonov said at a meeting with the tourism agency Saturday, Kommersant reported.

Lanta-Tur Voyage president Lyudmila Puchkova said her company collapsed after Master-Bank refused to continue lending it money, Kommersant said.

Yegor Altman, an adviser to the bank's chairman of the board, told The Moscow Times that Master-Bank was not the tour operator's only creditor, but declined to comment further.

Calls to the tour operator's office on Ulitsa Krylatskiye Kholmy, the only one still working, went unanswered Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another of the operator's Moscow offices — on Bolshoi Cherkassky Pereulok — was pelted with stones, Lifenews.ru reported Tuesday, posting a picture of a broken glass door held together by tape.

City police would examine the attack on the company's office although the office's managers had refused to file an official complaint, a police source told RIA-Novosti.


Despite Intervention by Putin, Travel Agency Shuts Down

29 February 2012 The Moscow Times

Bankrupt tour company Lanta-Tur Voyage ceased operations on Tuesday amid a criminal fraud case against its management and questions over whether tour customers will receive full refunds for trips they paid for but could not take.

The company's management gathered staff on Tuesday and told them the agency was shutting down, an unnamed tour industry source told Interfax.

About 3,000 Russian tourists were temporarily stranded in countries around the globe last month after the company suddenly announced it was broke.

Investigators later announced that the company's management was suspected of intentionally holding back payment for hotels and flights for its customers and pocketing the money.

The company renewed operations on Feb. 7 after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had ordered state-run bank VTB to help the firm. The bank agreed to lend Lanta-Tur Voyage $7 million.

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that the 100 million rubles ($3.45 million) in guarantees the company had with insurance company Ingosstrakh would not be enough to cover losses sustained by clients who missed out on their tours. The estimated losses by customers will total 300 million rubles, said Association of Russian Tour Operators vice president Vladimir Kantorovich, Interfax reported.

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 Post subject: Re: The perils of the Russian Tourists
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 29 Feb 2012 19:03 
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Consumer protection obviously has not developed or operates in Russia, as it does in the west and especially in the European Countries where the Package Travel Regulations protect the travelling public and their money.

I think now that the Russian outbound tourist industry is expanding rapidly, it's about time that the Government of the Russian Federation to take matters into its hands and create an A.T.O.L (Air Travel Organiser's Licence) system, similar to that of the UK for the protection of the consumer's and the travelling public.

In the UK, each tour company is required to have certain Capital and also lodge a Bond with the Civil Aviation Authority before they are granted a Licence to operate. Clients also pay a small fee for their protection, so when a company goes bust then the CAA has the funds to organise the repatriation of the clients stranded abroad and also pay refunds for those who have not yet travelled.

In the UK one of the biggest failures in the travel industry, in recent years, was that of XL Aviation. On 11 September 2008, the parent company XL Leisure Group filed for administration, the group later announced via their website that on 12 September 2008, 11 companies associated with the group had been put into administration, including XL Airways UK Limited.

The airline left around 90,000 stranded passengers in 50 destinations across Europe, USA, the Caribbean and Africa.

Of the stranded 63.000 passengers were on package holidays, so were covered by the ATOL bond, which ensures paid-for repatriation. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) chartered a number of aircraft from a variety of British airlines. Passengers who had booked direct, and were therefore not ATOL-protected, had to arrange their own flights home, but in some cases were offered special fares by airlines, or were offered spare seats on CAA-organised flights at a reasonable cost.

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