Crisis bij de Russische reisbureaus

Foto AP

Crisis bij de Russische reisbureaus, terwijl Rusland steeds meer politiek geïsoleerd raakt. Het gemiddelde Russische salaris is in een jaar tijd van 1.000 dollar naar 840 dollar gegaan. Politieagenten en andere ambtenaren hebben het advies gekregen dit jaar niet naar het buitenland te reizen - en dat zijn juist de mensen met een goedbetaalde baan, die normaal gewillige klant van de reisbureaus waren. Ook in Sotsji en op de Krim loopt het bepaald niet storm met vakantiegangers.

Clients of the respected travel agency Labyrinth found themselves grounded at airports around the world last weekend because the company went bankrupt without paying for their plane tickets. The Federal Agency of Tourism estimated that about 25.000 Russians were unable to return home, and as just as many had to abandon their holidays plans.

In the Turkish city of Antalya, a group of 100 Labyrinth clients organized a protest and — as Russians often do — asked President Vladimir Putin for his help. “We sleep on the floor, have no food, and only Russian tourists traveling with other agencies provide us with water,” one tourist told a Russian radio station.

Labyrinth’s bankruptcy is not an isolated case, as several other agencies have also gone belly up over the last few weeks amid a Russian tourism industry crisis resulting from its political isolation over the Ukraine conflict.

Two weeks ago, Russia’s oldest and very popular travel agency — Neva, based in Saint Petersburg — went bankrupt, leaving more than 7.000 people stranded away from home. A week later, clients of the Wind Rose World agency shared the same fate.

Experts say the devastating downturn in the Russian tourism industry this time around is much harsher than five years ago, when the 2008 global economic crisis hit.

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    • Wacław Radziwinowicz