'We are already feeling the outflow of tourists — about 15% have refused in a week'

Tour operators about the reaction of guests to Covid-19 restrictions in Tatarstan and a decrease in tourist flow

'We are already feeling the outflow of tourists — about 15% have refused in a week'
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Kazan is traditionally a popular destination for domestic tourism, but now the Tatarstan capital is experiencing a slight decrease in the tourist flow, industry representatives told Realnoe Vremya. This is how the guests of the republic are reacting to the deterioration of the epidemiological situation and the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions in the region. According to tour operators, during the week of living with QR codes in Kazan, the tourist flow has fallen by about 15%.

“It is still difficult to predict what losses we will suffer”

As soon as it became known that Tatarstan was introducing strict restrictive measures due to a sharp increase in the incidence of coronavirus, the interest of tourists in Kazan somewhat subsided, representatives of the tourism industry reported. The guests reacted especially sharply to that access to cafes, restaurants and shopping centres is closed for them without QR codes.

“The cancellation of hotel bookings has begun, many people are already cancelling their bookings for the November holidays. We are changing the programmes, optimising them taking into account the specifics of nutrition — it is possible only in hotels where guests live. There is an impact — both direct and indirect. It is still difficult to say what losses we will suffer, we will wait for the reports of hoteliers. We are already feeling an outflow — those who booked excursions. In percentage terms, about 15% of tourists refused during the weekm” Ramil Miftakhov, the president of the Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators of Tatarstan, told Realnoe Vremya.

The speaker did not make forecasts for the coming months, considering that the peak dates have not yet come: usually this is weekends associated with the November holidays, and after them — the New Year holidays. Traditionally, the tourism industry of Kazan and the republic as a whole does not experience a large load between them, Miftakhov notes:

“We will wait for what will be with the New Year holidays: there is an assumption that QR codes have been introduced for a month, but I think that at least until the end of the year, until we have a high percentage of vaccinated. One shouldn't expect that, as in Moscow, they will work for three weeks and that's it: no, we will not have that.”

The head of the Tatarstan Association of Tourism Industry considers it irrational to submit appeals to the government about lifting even tough, but forced Covid-19 restrictions — such requests have already been sent by the association of hoteliers and restaurateurs of Kazan. There is no point in duplicating them, he stressed.

“I do not know how we will survive again”

“Fortunately, no groups have been recruited for this period, and it's even good that we didn't get orders for this period," admitted Lilia Savelyeva, the director general of Inteltur Kazan travel company. “But it remains only to sympathise with colleagues who are being in such situation. Because all our work in such conditions is simply reduced not just to zero, but to a minus. Whatever we do, everything that is happening, all these cancellations, that then you have to fight to get your money back for paid tours or not returned, as it will be: we, in fact, become a buffer between people and between everything that happens. I do not know if this can be called a business now.”

The head of the travel company agrees that the measures imposed are forced, because the situation has got out of control and a sharp increase in morbidity has begun. But yet, the tourist business again has a lot of questions:

“I do not know how we will survive again. We are directly dependent on customers. These are the same people who earn money to go on vacation. In fact, everything that is happening ia having an impact on tourism. Some of the customers have shops, some have restaurants, respectively, they will not receive income, which means they will be impoverished, companies will close, not everyone will survive. Many did not survive last year. And today? How they survive, I can't even imagine. The fact that it always happens suddenly hits the hardest. They would have given some kind of preparatory period: for example, they should be vaccinated by December 6, otherwise such strict restrictions will be imposed. In my opinion, this would be right.”

Zilant-tour, where they work mainly with organised groups of tourists from Moscow and Moscow Oblast, reported that so far they have not felt a sharp outflow of customers.

“The groups that have made reservations for the month of November have not cancelled their reservations. After all, they can stay in a hotel, eat there, museums, too, thank God, are not closed — for tourists only a mask regime and a vaccinated guide. But I do not know what awaits us next, what will happen next," the director of the company, Rezida Dovgal, told Realnoe Vremya.

So far, according to her, “there are no special concerns”, excursions take place in the fresh air, you can feed tourists in the restaurant at the hotel (without QR codes).

“The most difficult situation is for food companies. In a sense, this is also detrimental to us. If before the restrictions we always included visits to cafes in the programme, restaurants of national cuisine, all sorts of master classes in them and the like — it's all very popular with tourists, now, unfortunately, such a highlight from the programme will disappear," the interlocutor of the publication complained.

Without QR code — only on the territory of the hotel

At the beginning of the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions in Tatarstan, the Tatarstan State Committee on Tourism explained how these requirements will affect the guests of the republic.

For example, without presenting a QR code and vaccination certificates, you can stay at the hotel and eat at the restaurant on its territory, visit the hotel fitness centres or swimming pools and other infrastructure facilities of the hotel. It is also possible to visit excursions and exhibitions without hindrance in compliance with the mask regime.

Photo: Maksim Platonov

If a tourist wants to go to a theatre, cinema, circus or concert, these cultural institutions can also be visited without a QR code, but if the occupancy of the premises is no more than 50% and no more than 500 people. The same requirements apply to sports, entertainment and other events. Most of all, children and schoolchildren are lucky — they will not be required to provide either a code or a certificate.

But the guests of Kazan will be required to provide a QR code or a certificate when visiting catering establishments, when providing services in sports centres, swimming pools, fitness centres, water parks, at the entrance to shopping and entertainment centres. Also, tourists over 65 years of age will be required to show documents confirming the fact of vaccination.

Angelina Panchenko
Tatarstan