Despite the desire of Russian touristic destinations to be named an alternative for travelers who once headed for Egypt for a warm seaside vacation, the Executive Director of the Association of tour operators of Russia (ATOR) Maya Lomidze says the concept wont fly.
The air catastrophe that has fairly well eliminated Egypt as a port of call for Russians should logically have spelled a boom for internal tourism in Russia. The situation with regard to the Red Sea resorts, the rest of the Middle East, and now with the Paris carnage all curtail tourism and prompt various redirects. Ms. Lomidze addressed the logical alternatives of Crimea and even the so-called "Golden Ring" within Russia, eliminating Crimea for the now fridgid water, and Kazan, St. Petersburg, and Moscow as flat out too expensive. The ATOR executive went on:
"You can understand officials making statements that the Russian resorts can accommodate those diverted from Egypt. It is their task – to promote domestic tourism. But we must understand that the experience of 2011 and 2013 when the direction was also closed, an alternative to Egypt wasnot found anywhere on the globe, and certainly not in the North or our country."
With Sochi as the only real "Southern" choice for Russians, and tours of the Olmypic venues as Lomidze puts it, it seems clear Russians have no place to go that compares to Egypt. When President Putin banned air travel from Russia to Egypt, tour operators began the "shift" to recommend other travel too. Unfortunately, many factors play a negative role in determining just where Russia's vacationers can go. In conjunction with this problem, (ATOR) has sent a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich proposing support be rendered to the industry in light of the Egypt situation. But the government faces its own problems in trying to mitigate sanctions from the west and other situations.
Just the other day we reported Aeroflot's budget air carrier, Victory Airlines being disallowed flight status to many European destinations including value propositions like Crete and other Southern Mediterranean choices. Aeroflot's Pobeda (Победа) "Victory" airline will not make limited flights to Vienna and to Bratislava, but was denied a comprehensive permit to fly to Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Spain, Israel, Italy, France, Cuba, Jordan, Latvia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Hungary, as well as being denied flights in between Moscow and Heraklion on Crete.
The Italy, Israel, and especially the Crete routes could have provided nice alternatives for Muscovites seeking a moderate Christmas season or a brief escape from bitter cold elsewhere in Russia. From personal experience, I know hotels and Italy and in Crete that would lay out the red carpet for off-season tourists. Once again, the sanctions regime and Cold War politics seem to work against all concerned.