‘Turpomosch’ Asks Regions to Contribute

Andrew Pokrevsky, 07.02.2014 11:48
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Turpomosch expects greater initiative from the regional travel business. Such was the result of the business meeting between the Association’s management and travel companies of St. Petersburg and North-West which took place in St. Petersburg Tourist Information Bureau, reports the correspondent of TRN magazine.

Passions ran high at the hour and a half meeting: heads of (mainly medium-sized) travel companies complained about high membership fees of Turpomosch and about the absence of information on the companies at the Association’s website. Tour operators believe that it can confuse tourists: if a client would like to verify the legitimacy and reliability of a travel company on the site of Turpomosch, he or she may not find the desired information.

The informational ‘blows’ were handled by Vyacheslav Basov, the Association’s Director, and his deputy, Vice-President of Russian Tourism Union Alexander Osaulenko.

Basov said that the compensation fund created from the contributions of tour operators was special purpose only, reserved for helping tourists in case of emergencies or natural disasters. A tourist can get help within 24 hours after contacting the Association. It effectively means that in case of overbooking the tourist will be left ‘in the wild’ for at least 24 hours, waiting for his or her problem to be resolved.

Currently, the estimated size of the fund is 200 million rubles ($5,725,100), which is deposited on VTB Bank accounts as per the decision of Turpomosch’s Supervisory Board. The fund remained untouched for the past year: according to Basov, administrative resources were enough to help all the tourists in distress. He said that as of today the Association has agreements with 2-3 large tour operators for each of the travel destinations, and also with Rosaviatsiya (Federal Air Transport Agency) as regards evacuating tourists.

“This season two operators, a small one and a large one, had to deal with two disasters”, said Basov, without naming the ‘protagonists’.

Basov believes the current funds to be enough for now.

By the way, the Supervisory Board of the fund submitted a proposition to the Russian government that would limit the size of the fund. Moreover, last year Turpomosch put forward an initiative to cut the monetary contributions by half – make them 50 thousand as opposed to 100 thousand rubles (as part of the amendment package to Federal Law 132).

“All these changes represent patchwork of sorts, done to amend the situation, but they also form part of the discussion on the law ‘On tourism’, which is slated to be passed in 2015,” said Osaulenko.

There were some questions at the meeting that Turpomosch struggled to give clear answers to. For instance, money transferred to the fund of Turpomosch is non-recoverable: in other words, if a firm pays its contribution and then goes out of business, it will not get its 100 thousand back. If tourists in trouble are evacuated (with the help of Turpomosch) to their homeland, they will still complain about the fact that their holiday was ruined and demand compensation. What amount can the tourist expect to get (will the cost of emergency evacuation be deducted from the compensation or not, and how to determine this cost)? Finally, if a tourist does not want emergency evacuation and wants instead to continue with the holiday, what will the procedure be then?

There was also a proposition to differentiate the amount of monetary contributions: travel companies believe that not only formal balance of a firm, but also its real volume of services on the market should be considered.

Osaulenko said that if travel companies had any ideas on solving these problems, Turpomosch would readily review them and, in case approved, turn them into bills. However, legislative process of passing these bills will take a while: it can last from 1.5 to 2 years.

"Travel companies can help us better understand the current situation in each region and the challenges that are facing tourism today," added Vyacheslav Basov.

Finally, Osaulenko commented that regional companies were not too active on the Supervisory Board of Turpomosch: not one regional association member showed up at the last meeting, when it is regional businesses that make up the majority in the association: 56% of the total number of companies.

The first publicly-announced official results of the Association’s work will be presented at the general meeting which will take place on April 18. However, a report on the organization’s work in 2013 will be available two months earlier – February 7, on the Association’s website.

Страны, регионы и города: Russia
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