Expert Opinion: “Actions of French Consulate Can Cause Damages Worth Millions of Euros”

Adriana Smirnova, 17.12.2013 19:00
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Losses for both Russian and French economies can amount to millions of euros. TRN spoke to an employee of one of the tour operators that were stripped of their accreditation, and such was his forecast.

Let us crunch some numbers: an average accredited tour operator can send a few thousand tourists to France each year, with tour prices averaging 700-800 euro. In these circumstances, the total turnover of a company for this destination amounts to several hundred thousand euros. Even if a few tour operators were to be stripped of their accreditation, direct losses alone would be millions of euros. Then there are reputation costs – a tour operator has obligations to its clients, it spends years developing a destination, has pre-paid blocks of seats in airlines and rooms in hotels. If this operator gets ‘thrown out’ from the business for no discernible reasons, it delivers a heavy blow to the company’s reputation. This seems especially strange when you consider the fact that Atout France, French Destination Management Company, is painstakingly promoting France on the Russian market, which means that harm is done not only to Russians, but to the French as well,” said the expert.

This is not the first scandal that Moscow’s French Consulate has been involved in. Citing France’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Izvestia newspaper reported that in August of 2006 the consulate laid off seven employees who abused the procedure of issuing the Schengen visa. According to official sources, three employees of the French Consulate were dismissed, while four others quit of their own volition. Problems began when part of the consulate’s employees organized a strike right on the eve of the March holidays of 2006, which resulted in two thousand Russian tourists not getting their visas in time.

The controversy was so great that it even reached French media. According to French newspaper «Libération», illegal sale of visas went on for a few years. The newspaper’s correspondents reported that a number of travel companies used forged documents to sell Schengen visas for 1-1.2 thousand euros, with their real price being 35 euros.

However, not all of the destination’s tour operators were stripped of their accreditation. The information on the consulate’s official website has not been refreshed yet, so it is still impossible to say who gets to keep their accreditation and who does not.

Keep checking with TRN magazine for further developments in the story.

Страны, регионы и города: France, Russia
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