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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

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with today’s free exhibition in the city’s Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled “Under the Rustling Wings,” the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontov’s play “The Masquerade,” which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBA’s Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on “Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends.” Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmCham’s Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spa’s Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the city’s cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the city’s KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the club’s website or in person at either the arena’s box office or the club’s merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russia’s energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russia’s largest economic sector.



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