Hoteliers above suspicion: deputies decide to tackle private apartment owners problem prior to the World Cup

Hoteliers above suspicion: deputies decide to tackle private apartment owners problem prior to the World Cup Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Russian hotel market is to become organized starting from 2019 through creating a system of mandatory classification. In Tatarstan, this would be easier because the republic is responsible for assigning ''stars'' to the hotels for already several years, and it is thanks to the Confederations Cup and upcoming World Cup. Deputy of the State Duma of the seventh convocation Marat Bariev and President of the Association of the Hotels of Kazan and Tatarstan Gulnara Safina told the details about the consequences of the draft bill and about the situation in the hotel market of Tatarstan.

''Stars'' to everyone

On 19 January, the State Duma adopted the law on compulsory classification of hotels throughout Russia in the third reading. In the first phase, from 1 July 2019, all the hotels with more than 50 rooms have to go through the classification. From 2020, the hotels with more than 15 rooms are obliged to go through this procedure, and from 2021 all hotels of Russia will fall under the new bill. Besides, beaches and ski slopes are also to go through this classification.

The classification certificate will be issued for 3 years, and now the Federal Agency for Tourism will need to change the rules of providing hotel services, to determine the rules for accreditation and ''stars'' awarding. Besides, special accrediting organizations are to be created for the bill implementation.

Since the classification is mandatory, in the case of hotel services delivery without the proper certificate, officials will be fined from 7 to 10 thousand rubles, legal entities — from 40 to 50 thousand rubles, and for cheating with the ''stars'', officials will have to pay a fine up to 20 thousand rubles, legal entities — up to 500 thousand rubles.

Tatarstan hotels as sites for holding the World Cup have passed the classification almost at 100%, about which president of the Association of the Hotels of Kazan and Tatarstan Gulnara Safina reminded. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Without ''stars'' via Skype and sham experts

There are 404 collective accommodation facilities registered in the republic for now, 198 of which are situated in Kazan. There are three five-star hotels in the capital of Tatarstan, in the Republic of Tatarstan — five. There are much more four-star hotels — about 30-35 in Kazan and about 40 throughout the region. All the others are three-star and less.

Tatarstan hotels as sites for holding the World Cup have passed the classification almost at 100%, about which president of the Association of the Hotels of Kazan and Tatarstan Gulnara Safina reminded. Like in the case with the introduced changes, the certificate of classification will be valid 3 years, so by 1 July 2019 hoteliers with a valid certificate won't have to re-register it.

Out of fundamentally important for hoteliers innovations in the bill, Safina called the focus on accrediting organizations. According to her, among the existing organizations as experts there were involved those that has no relation to the hotel business, and sometimes ''stars'' were assigned via Skype, what the new amendments exclude.

Apartments as a threat to hotel business

The president of the Association of Hotels of Kazan and Tatarstan cited the fact that the bill does not regulate the activities of rental apartments owners as a concerning point. By the way, the apartments have grown in price to a crazy hundred thousand rubles per day prior to the World Cup. At the board meeting on tourism earlier, this issue was raised by the chairman of the State Committee Sergey Ivanov, hinting to the tax authorities that this black market business could be interesting to them. Gulnara Safina noted that the situation with hostels, which are still located in residential and non-residential premises, is still unclear.

Marat Bariev told about rental apartments that although the bill does not consider this category, now the State Duma Committee on Housing is working on an initiative regulating the rental apartments. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Marat Bariev told about rental apartments that although the bill does not consider this category, now the State Duma Committee on Housing is working on an initiative regulating the rental apartments. At the moment, it is being at the stage of approval and will soon be brought for consideration to the State Duma.

According to Gulnara Safina, in the republic private apartments already occupy 30-40% of the hotel market.

''It has almost become equal to hotel facilities, and it's not exactly fair market conditions,'' the hotelier said at the press conference, noting that the activity of the hotels is transparent and they are required to fulfill all the requirements, as opposed to apartments.

Prices will be brought down to earth

Already now one of the most debated topics is accommodation during the World Cup. Prices have risen dramatically and it is not just about private apartments. Earlier it was reported that the ''black'' list included 41 hotels of Volgograd, Samara, Kaliningrad regions, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar Krai. Such hotels are dealt with through fines since the maximum threshold for the cost of hotel rooms has been defined for the period of major events.

''The regulatory authorities monitor this and they will bring them down to a peg,'' Marat Bariev said.

In Tatarstan, a superior room in a five-star hotel will cost a maximum of 85,000 rubles. The upper threshold for the most expensive room in a four-star hotel has been defined at 53,000 rubles, in a three-star hotel — 24,700 rubles, in a two-star hotel — 11,330 rubles. The republic has not been noticed in price increase yet, as Gulnara Safina noted, the room price rates were already regulated in the framework of the Confederations Cup, so these rules are not new for Tatarstan.

Already now one of the most debated topics is accommodation during the World Cup. Prices have risen dramatically and it is not just about private apartments. Photo: hotelsmaster.ru

''Accordingly, the hotels definitely do not raise the prices. And what we see in open source booking systems, this more applies to apartments,'' said the head of the association of the hoteliers.

By the way, the Federal Tourism Agency will also try to deal with high prices for apartments during the World Cup. The ministry has stated about its intention to send to the heads of the regions the lists who rent out their apartments at the time of the competition.

Everything is unclear with hotel occupancy yet

In the meantime, if the demand for apartments due to objective reasons is impossible to trace because their activities are not regulated, in the case with hotels it can be done. However, according to Gulnara Safina, at the moment they have no statistics. This is largely due to the fact that the rooms of 27 hotels in Kazan have been reserved by the official tour operator of the competition.

However, cancellations are expected not only from the ones willing to come to the World Cup, but also other companies that form a waiting list.

By Maria Gorozhaninova