Hundreds of Tatarstan residents lose their holiday in China due to coronavirus

Rustam Minnikhanov gave a task to inform the population about anti-epidemic measures in the republic

Hundreds of Tatarstan residents lose their holiday in China due to coronavirus
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Up to 500 tourists from Tatarstan can be in China now, thinks the Association of Travel Agencies of the Republic of Tatarstan Ramil Miftakhov thinks. There isn’t official data yet. However, it is known that the Tatarstan holidaymakers who are on Hainan Island will be transported to Kazan by three planes. The Russian Tourism Agency has recommended tour operators to stop selling tours to China because of the epidemic of coronavirus infection, which is now rampant in the country. This happened at the height of the high season on the Chinese island of Hainan, which is popular with Russians. Those who have already purchased tours there have to change their holiday plans, while tour operators have to give the clients the money back. By preliminary estimate, it isn’t even hundreds but thousands of tourists who were to fly to China only from Kazan.

Thousands of Tatarstan residents without trip to China

A charter flight А-330-200 is operated by IFly from Kazan to Sanya (a tourist city on Hainan Island) twice a week (on Tuesdays and Fridays). Such a plane accommodates over 300 passengers. According to director of Another Dimension travel agency Yulia Kaurova, these flights are usually full. Considering that flights were scheduled till late March, we can assume 17 flights won’t be operated (if the epidemic doesn’t stop soon), which could transport over 5,000 residents of Tatarstan and neighbouring regions to China. Yes, probably not all tickets for remote dates were sold out, however, in any case, thousands of tours will have to be returned. We will repeat that it is only in Kazan.

“Now it is certainly known that the flights on 28 January and 4 February that about ten of our agency’s clients were going to take have been cancelled. The operator (Tez Tour in this case) will have to return the money, we will also return our agency’s fee. It is unclear what will happen next. We have clients who bought tickets for March. We hope that the flights will open,” Yulia Kaurova says.

Recommendation: don’t leave hotels

As for those who have managed to fly to Hainan before the imposition of restrictions, they can either stay in the resort till the end of the tour or return in one of the flights back. The case is that the planes fly according to schedule now, but they take passengers on board only on their way back. They fly empty. According to Tez Tour operator, the last flights of this kind are scheduled on 3 and 4 February.

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“Those tourists who are in China are recommended to stay in hotels, try not to contact with the locals, don’t go to public places till their departure. Some tour operators are transporting tourists (if they want) back in advance, moreover, tourists, in this case, won’t receive compensation because it is force majeure,” head of the Association of Tourism Agencies Ramil Miftakhov said. “Tour operators carry serious losses, as all costs to send empty planes to transport tourists back fall on their shoulders, this is envisaged by legislation.”

Few alternatives to China

In Yulia Kaurova’s opinion, the market doesn’t have a lot of alternatives to Chinese Hainan: other destinations are more expensive.

“After problems in China began, a question arose: ‘Where else can we go?’. Vietnam and Thailand are much more expensive. People are afraid of flying to the UAE because Iran is close,” Kaurova says. “Those who have anyway flown to China don’t rush to come back. I have tourists there now, they don’t complain about anything, everything is fine.”

“China is said to be dangerous. But where is it safe in this case?” head of Inteltour Liliya Savelyeva complains. “There are a lot of Chinese everywhere, including in Kazan…”

“The situation won’t change till the end of the season”

Some tourists who already bought tours to China and are going to fly soon can lose their holiday abroad. The case is that it can take some time to get the money back from the tour operators, while not all people have money to buy another tour quickly.

“I have clients who found that they wouldn’t be able to fly to China and paid once again for a tour to the Emirates,” Yulia Kaurova said. “The problem is also that Tez Tour offers only China from Kazan, this is why it won’t be possible to change a tour without additional payment. I considered Sri Lanka from Moscow as an alternative, but it is more expensive.”

Head of the Association of Travel Agencies of Tatarstan Ramil Miftakhov assumes that the situation won’t change soon and travel agents can forget about the Chinese destination till the end of spring.

“It is only spring on Hainan, and I think that the situation won’t change there till the end of the season, everybody who bought tours will get the money back,” Miftakhov says. “Other Chinese destinations aren’t popular among Russians, but all flights to this country are cancelled.”

Some tourists who already bought tours to China and are going to fly soon can lose their holiday abroad. Photo: Maksim Platonov

How Tatarstan gets ready to coronavirus’s spread

On 27 January, President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov gave a task to systematically inform the population about anti-epidemic measures taken in Tatarstan because of the unfavourable situation in China due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Russia’s consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor office in Tatarstan said that all necessary measures to prevent the spread of diseases caused by new coronavirus were taken.

“Due to the unfavourable situation with new coronavirus in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the office of Rospotrebnadzor in the Republic of Tatarstan continues taking a set of anti-epidemic measures. There is stricter double control of passengers arriving from unfavourable regions with the help of fixed and mobile thermal imaging at checkpoints via the state border of the Russian Federation at the airports Kazan and Begishevo,” reads the service’s message.

All arriving passengers, according to epidemiologists, are asked about symptoms — they are warned about the necessity to see a doctor if their body temperature goes up and there some symptoms of diseases for 14 days after arrival.

181 flights (including seven from the PRC), over 31,000 passengers and crew members (about 2,500 from the PRC) were examined at the airports Kazan and Begishevo. There weren’t detected passengers with signs of infections and temperature.

Four Kazan citizens with viral respiratory infection symptoms who were back from a holiday in Sanya on Hainan Island (China) during different periods recently sought to medical advice themselves. They all were hospitalised and examined for the new coronavirus infection, the results are negative.

There is stricter double control of passengers arriving from unfavourable regions with the help of fixed and mobile thermal imaging at checkpoints via the state border of the Russian Federation at the airports Kazan and Begishevo. Photo: Dmitry Reznov

“According to monitoring community-acquired pneumonia in the republic, there isn’t a rise in average disease rate, the rate of flu and viral respiratory infections isn't epidemic. The situation is controlled by Rospotrebnadzor’s office in the Republic of Tatarstan. To prevent the cases of diseases caused by the new coronavirus from spreading in the Russian Federation, it is necessary to take precautions:

  • don’t plan trips to the PRC until the situation stabilises;
  • it is necessary to learn the epidemiological situation when planning trips abroad to other countries;
  • don’t go to markets where animals, seafood are sold;
  • eat only heat-treated food, drink bottled water ;
  • don’t go to the zoo, cultural events with animals;
  • use respiratory protection equipment (masks);
  • wash your hands after visiting public places and before eating a meal;
  • seek medical advice in hospitals after noticing the first signs of the disease, no self-treatment;
  • if you seek medical advice in the Russian Federation, inform the medical staff of when and where you were in the PRC,” the epidemiologists recommend.
By Vitaly Akhmerov
Tatarstan