About 20,000 Russian tourists can't return home - Rostourism head
MOSCOW. March 4 (Interfax) - About 20,000 Russian tourists stranded abroad are having trouble returning home, most of them are in Latin American countries, Federal Tourism Agency (Rostourism) head Zarina Doguzova said.
"The media has reported a large figure of 160,000 tourists who are now abroad, and this is true. But the vast majority of these tourists continue their holidays quietly and do not experience any difficulties. This is the same Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and a number of other countries where there are no problems. The number of tourists who encountered difficulties now is not more than 20,000. A couple of days ago, the figure was somewhere around 27,000," she said in an interview to the NTV television channel.
Most of those who have been stranded, precisely 19,000, are staying in the Latin American countries, Doguzova said.
In this region, there are problems due to the need to bypass the airspace of the countries that have halted air traffic with Russia.
"You have to fly around there, so the journey has become longer and the delays have begun. However, every day tour operators evacuate several thousand tourists. For example, today seven Boeing aircraft carrying more than 2,000 people departed from Latin America. Aeroflot provides flights for independent tourists. I think that in a short time we will bring home 19,000 people," she said.
The Rostourism head also said that there are far fewer tourists stuck in Europe, literally one thousand.
"It is Bulgaria, Portugal (Madeira), and a number of other countries. It is slower there because repatriation humanitarian flights are being coordinated and it takes time. But such flights are also arranged. Today there are two flights from Bulgaria and in the next few days, there will be one from Madeira, and we are working on these routes. But if people have the opportunity to fly on their own, it's faster than waiting for repatriation flights," she added.
Rostourism now does not recommend travel to those countries that have banned air traffic with Russia, Doguzova said.
"In such hard times, tourists and all of us should take a balanced approach to travel, assess the possible risks as much as possible. However, there is quite a large number of countries, which are gladly waiting for us. There are no obstacles to flying to these countries now. I refrain from recommendations not to travel anywhere," she said.
She listed the countries that stand ready to receive Russian tourists.
"Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, India, the United Arab Emirates... I fully confirm the readiness of Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia to receive our tourists without any restrictions. I personally conducted these negotiations with the tourism ministers of these three countries, they expressed willingness to continue to accept our tourists," the Rostourism head said.