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Ban on State Employee Travel Sinks Another Tour Operator

Published: August 5, 2014 (Issue # 1822)



  • "Over the first half of the year our revenues slumped 25 percent, among other reasons due to the regulation put on state employees traveling abroad," Pirogov told news agency RIA Novosti.
    Photo: Dave Heuts Photography / Flickr

The fourth Russian tour operator in just over one month went bust this weekend, said to have been toppled by, among other causes, a drastic slump in demand after the government recommended that security and law enforcement officers do not travel abroad.

This stricture, together with geopolitical tensions over Ukraine, an economic slump and a fast-weakening ruble, has resulted in a 20 to 50 percent decline in the flow of Russian tourists abroad compared to last year, depending on the destination, said Irina Tyurina, a spokeswoman for Russia's Tourism Industry Union, citing industry estimates.

On Monday, the tourism industry's troubles had drawn the attention of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who ordered his deputy Dmitry Kozak to take the situation under personal control.

"This is some kind of a breakdown, I do not remember anything like this happening before," Medvedev said, commenting on the state of affairs in the industry, the RBC news agency reported.

In July, Neva, one of Russia's oldest tour agencies, declared it was unable to meet its obligations, resulting in the abrupt cancellation of more than 6,000 active tours abroad. Two smaller companies halted operations at the end of July. And on Saturday, the biggest yet, tour operator Labyrinth, said it was suspending operations, leaving an estimated 25,000 customers stranded overseas.

Labyrinth said in a statement that the reasons for its shutdown included the falling value of the ruble against foreign currencies, and an overall negative political and economic situation. The ruble has fallen by 9 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, and by 7 percent against the euro, while the economy fights to avoid slipping into recession.

Labyrinth also blamed the recommended ban on travel abroad by employees of the state's law and order apparatus, such as prosecutors, police, tax enforcers and military personnel — called in the vernacular siloviki, or strongmen.

In April, amid the mounting standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Russian media reported that the government had strongly recommended these state employees to reconsider traveling abroad due to the political uncertainty.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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