''The introduction of resort fee in Crimea only strengthens the opinion that the next season is ''no good''
The law on resort tax should be seen as an experiment, believes Crimean political analyst Ivan Mezyukho
Discussions on the resort fee do not subside in the Russian information space. Especially controversial is the fee for vacation in Crimea, where many issues of infrastructure and transport accessibility have not been solved yet. A number of regions have already determined a fee amount in the range from 25 to 50 rubles per person per day. However, a Crimean political scientist and our columnist Ivan Mezhyukho says that it is only an experiment and in case of failure the resort fee will be cancelled. He expressed his position in the newspaper column written specially for Realnoe Vremya.
It is an experiment, not axiom
The State Duma adopted in the third reading the law on introduction of resort fee, which has already caused much controversy, speculation, predictions and interpretations. It is only left for the Federation Council to decide, which is considering the law ''On conducting experiment on development of resort infrastructure in the Republic of Crimea, Altai Krai, Krasnodar Krai and Stavropol Krai'' (the official name of the law) at the final meeting of the spring session of the upper house of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
The interval between adoption of the law in the final reading by the State Duma and its consideration by the Federation Council was the time of strong debates between supporters and opponents of the introduction of resort fees. Everyone from hoteliers to housewives, large businessmen and politicians to shawarma sellers on Russian beaches, in the social networks discussed the pros and cons of the introduction of resort fees in some regions of the country.
Here are several basic points of this law. First, the law on resort fee should be seen as an experiment, not axiom. Second, each of the regions participating in experiment, will create a special fund, money from which are allowed to be spent only for design, construction, reconstruction, maintenance, improvement and repair of resort infrastructure. Third, the experiment will last until the end of 2022, and the subjects of the federation participating in it have to adopt the laws on imposition of the fee not later that before 1 December 2017, and its collection should begin no earlier than in May 2018. To all this can added that the resort fee can not be more than 100 rubles per day, and in 2018 must not exceed 50 rubles.
Reasons for discontent
I do not want to diminish the merits of other regions, but in the Republic of Crimea, perhaps, the law on resort fee has raised a widespread public discussion. Many Crimeans each holiday season love to say clichéd and pre-cooked words that ''the season is no good''. They say it even when the active period of making money on tourists was normal and they managed to receive good profits. What is more, sometimes even those who are not engaged in tourist or spa business, do not work in providing services, leisure and recreation, say that the season is ''no good''. Of course, I may be wrong, but as a native Crimean, I have long concluded that some of my countrymen just can't objectively assess results of a holiday season because of their habit to say this bored over the years of speech training, spoken almost in one word, phrase.
So, the introduction of the resort fee in Crimea only strengthens the opinion of some Crimeans that the next ''season is no good''. Many people do not have enough information about this law. Although there are objective reasons for people to be concerned in connection with the introduction of this fee. In Crimea, there are problems with the quality of services, inflated prices, expensive summer tickets, shadow tourist industry and old infrastructure. Hence the question arises: ''Will tourists want to come to us, knowing about our problems, and what is more, they will have to pay the resort fee?''
There are also those who use the situation of information hype around the law on the resort fee and they are already publishing articles in liberal media-style ''everything is lost'', although what conclusions can we discuss now if the law comes into effect only next year? How can one give accurate predictions on its action on the Peninsula, even if there is no decision of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea on this issue yet? In general, for Crimean opposition, this topic becomes a fertile field to criticize the government.
Other side of the coin
But there is another side of the law. It is obvious that the Crimean municipalities do not have enough money for development of resort infrastructure. The resort fee could contribute to reconstruction of some tourist facilities on the Peninsula. Now there is a debate about the fact that it should not be year-round and its size would should be affordable for a tourist. In the end, many countries have such tax. Even better, if the tourist will see firsthand where his money went when he comes to rest to Crimea next year.
Besides, the head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov said that public opinion will be taken into account in regards to functioning of the resort fee and, if necessary, it will be adjusted. Sergey Aksyonov is a strong-willed man, and there is no doubt that if the experiment gets bad results and with potential adjustments the problem is not corrected, then Crimea will be the first subject to declare that the resort fee is not favourable for it and withdraw from this experiment.