8 Apr 2020 13:23

Russian authorities working out mechanism to distribute compensation to tour operators

MOSCOW. April 8 (Interfax) - Russia's Federal Tourism Agency and Economic Development Ministry are working out a mechanism to distribute funds the government has allocated to compensate tour operators, and the application process will begin soon, the agency told Interfax on Wednesday.

Under a government order published on Wednesday, tour operators will receive 3.5 billion rubles to compensate tourists for cancelled non-refundable tickets.

These funds are being allocated from the government's reserve fund and the Federal Tourism Agency is the main distributor of the money, the agency said. "Now our objective is to work out a mechanism with the Economic Development Ministry to disburse the money," the agency said.

Only tickets that were sold as part of a tourism product will be compensated, the agency said. Therefore, travel companies will have to provide "vouchers, documents confirming that the tourist made a prepayment, and the tour operator itself made a prepayment in turn for a block of seats," it said.

"The airline will also have to confirm that the ticket is non-refundable and the money was not returned to the tour operator. Earlier we talked through this arrangement with companies and they confirmed that they're prepared to work according to it," the agency said, adding that payouts "will begin soon."

Tourism Agency head Zarina Doguzova said earlier that tourism companies cannot meet their obligations to tourists and their employees without state support. The allocation of the 3.5 billion rubles from the reserve fund was part of the first package of support for tour operators that the agency prepared with the Economic Development Ministry.

These measures will not solve all problems and are not exhaustive, so it is crucial to look for alternative solutions that could help all stakeholders, Doguzova said.