Natali Tours problems: ''The probability they won’t come out is very high''

Over a hundred of Tatarstan clients of the tour operator lost tours to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico

One of the oldest Russian tour operators Natali Tours is going through a series of difficulties. Information about the cancellation of charter flights appeared first, then there were complications with regular flights. The tour operator's clients started to have problems with accommodation in hotels in Spain, Turkey, Thailand and other countries. There are Tatarstan tourists among the victims too – more than a hundred people can't get to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico this autumn. Realnoe Vremya tells the details of how the tourism industry is assessing the chances of Natali Tours to fix the situation.

Problems started with refusal of charter flights

Natali Tours's complications with regular flights tours followed the refusal of charter flights to popular beach destinations. W2Meet from Spain declared it stopped cooperating with the Russian tour operator, which caused a cancellation of booking in hotels to accommodate tourist. Other counteragents are also in the queue, as Natali Tours has a debt equal to about $1 million.

Director General of the company Vladimir Vorobyov himself confirmed the information about the cancellation of bookings on his Facebook page: ''Today there will be an uneasy day for my relatives, friends, business partners, clients and employees of Natali Tours and for me personally. Late on Friday, due to financial disagreements, our Spanish partner W2Meet stopped cooperating with us and started to cancel bookings. Not to create additional problems, there was made a decision to stop charter flights to Spain and refuse places in several destinations.''

The tour operator said he informed the tourism industry about these problems, ''which helped to avoid serious complications at departure and arrival airports and in resorts''. According to him, planes took off with a half load, and all tourists were taken home. Natali Tours is going to transport the clients who remain in resorts during this week. At this moment, the company continues sending tourists with regular flights to all destinations except Spain.

''We're looking for another supplier instead of W2Meet to rebook. At this moment, we have negotiations,'' Realnoe Vremya was told in Natali Tours's hotline and withheld comments. Natali Tours's office in Kazan was also laconic and added they were solving the problem.

Vorobyov: ''First of all, we need your belief''

At the end of his post, Vladimir Vorobyov asks for help: ''We really need it on these uneasy days. First of all, we need your belief in that the company with 25-year experience and the latest technologies in the Russian market is able to cope with the difficulties together with you. We need the support of agencies in sales, no business is able to exist without them for long.'' The director of Natali Tours also writes he needs a ''self-sacrificing work of employees'' as well as ''understanding and patience of partners'' while corrections are made and believes he will be able to overcome the difficulties together. The tourists in resorts are offered to solve the problems at their own expense – Vorobyov promises to compensate their costs during three-seven days.

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia reacted to the urge to help: ''The message of the officials of Natali Tours, which appeared on Friday evening, on 29 June, and the cancellation of Avrora BG programmes from 2 July made amendments to holiday plans of many tourists and divested weekend tour agents of these companies. All people who have been affected somehow by decisions of the cancellation of flight programmes of these tour operators, we recommend reading the advice of the legal service of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia''. Then the association reminded the algorithm of actions when flights and tours were cancelled.

According to Ъ, Natali Tours's debt to counteragents is assessed at $1 million. It's not excluded that other partners of the Russian tour operator will start cancelling bookings.

Natali Tours's complications with regular flights tours followed the refusal of charter flights to popular beach destinations. Photo: Maksim Platonov

In previous years, the company already had problems with suppliers. In 2016, the tour operator had a conflict with Transaero Airlines, the airline demanded $5,8 million through court for not meeting obligations on the agency agreement. Last year, the main legal entity of Natali Tours – Novella Tours PLC – was declared bankrupt due to a claim of the airline. Last week, the tour operator sent tour agencies a letter about the cancellation of charter flights amid a low demand for programmes to Barcelona, Rimini, Catania, Napoli, Antalya and Heraklion. The company offered the victims to give the money back.

According to the company's officials' data, about 1,500 Russian citizens won't be able to use their tours only in July. They are offered compensation or substitution of a holiday in the UAE later. This summer the company was going to sell about 10,000 tours.

Tatarstan residents' spoiled holiday in Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico

There were many Tatarstan residents among the victims of Natali Tours. It's mainly buyers of tours in autumn – a totality of more than a hundred people, Kazan tour operators said to our newspaper.

''My acquaintance's clients lost tours to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Each tour agency had three-four tours, sales were high in September and October, that's to say, it's people who haven't flown yet. One woman has already paid 50% to Natali Tours. She is offered to spend these 50% to pay for tickets, that's to say, she will be given tickets, while hotels will be cancelled. She will have to look for hotels with other operators. It's good she managed to get the tickets, while others are in a more complicated situation now,'' director of Intourline Zulfiya Nazmiyeva explains.

Director of Inteltrou Kazan Liliya Savelyeva refused to cooperate with Natali Tours a long time ago. An 'incorrect' behaviour of the tour operator is one of the reasons:

''They work incorrectly. And, to tell the truth, we stopped booking them a long time ago. We had a tourist just recently, in June, who insisted on doing it with them because it was very cheap. For some reason, it doesn't scary and alarm people that their price is sharply different from other offers. So this client had problems, she even was going to sue, she was surprised very much. Her flight was postponed on the next day, a five-star hotel was substituted for a three-star one. There were many situations of this kind. This is why we don't book them.''

The tour company's director recognised she even lost clients for this reason because she didn't offer them services of Natali Tours. And the tourists went to other companies to go on a trip through this tour operator.

''Vorobyov counts on the support of his chain of agencies very much because, as you understand, if there aren't orders, if people don't bring money, it's like in The Count of Monte Cristo – you led the bank to bankruptcy yourself. It was just enough to say a word, and a good company can die. But I don't know whether people will bring money. Who wants to risk their tourists? This is why the probability they won't come out is very high, in my opinion,'' thinks Liliya Savelyeva.

However, not all people are sceptical about Natali Tours. ''So what? Why is all this upset needed? Unlike many Turkish colleagues, it's a fair play, charter flights are cancelled, the bubble isn't made bigger,'' experienced directors of big Moscow tour agencies write.

''Natali had blocks in regular flights. It's almost charter flights, and they cancelled them. My tourists flew to an expensive hotel to the UAE yesterday. All is fine, everybody was accommodated. I have bookings in the Emirates, people are flying as they did. They are accommodated and welcomed. There are bookings in regular flights of Qatar Airlines to the Maldives in August. People have tickets with phone numbers of Qatar, bookings of hotel and transfers in their hands. And nobody cancels anything,'' director of Drugoye Izmereniye company from Kazan Yulia Kaurova noted.

''I have only sporadic cases of work with this tour operator. And everything is fine. This company is quite old. And I think the officials have a correct policy – they have shifted almost all tours to regular flights. They've faced this problem once and solved it. I think everything will be fine, I hope so,'' added director of Travel and Work Yulia Talanova.

The problems of Natali Tours in the tourism industry are linked with a delay in payment for bookings in hotels. Nevertheless, the majority of Kazan tour operators are inclined to suppose the tour company will be able to fix the situation and make peace with partners anyway.

By Vasilya Shirshova