'One big crowd' — Russian resorts 'fail' on beaches

Tatarstan tourists have faced with congestion of the central beaches in Sochi, Anapa and Crimea

The central beaches of the Russian resorts of Krasnodar Krai and Crimea are overloaded, and there are no other options to find a suitable place for a family holiday. “If you go sideways, you still can't drive up to an empty bathing place by car," say Tatarstan tourists who went on vacation to Vityazevo, which is located in the suburbs of Anapa, by private transport. According to them, it is difficult to find a suitable spot on the sand for a family holiday within walking distance. And Rospotrebnadzor may limit the access to Crimean beaches after the flood in Yalta. Turkish resorts can become an alternative: first charter flights to Antalya have been launched from Kazan.

Crowded Sochi, Vityazevo, Yevpatoria

Russian resorts were not ready for a massive influx of tourists who, due to the closure of borders, filled Krasnodar Krai and Crimea. First of all, the beaches are overcrowded, the residents of Tatarstan who went on vacation complain. But other infrastructure of recreation areas also is not coping with the influx.

In social networks, people are posting photos of huge Sochi queues, for example, to get to the pool on Zhemchuzhina beach, on the border with Abkhazia, at the airport, for Lastochka morning trains. “Sochi now is one big crowd” — they are complaining in a city public.

According to Tatarstan tourists, the territory of the central beaches in the main resort cities of the country no longer admit all visitors. People are literally sunbathing on top of each other. While Turkey was closed, tourists rushed to Russian resorts. To occupy a comfortable place on the beach, they take space from early in the morning.

“Sochi now is one big crowd” — they are complaining in a city public. Photo: vk.com/this_is_sochi

Even the Olympic beach in Sochi turned out to be crowded. The videos where sunbathers stand and lie on the sand close to each other are racking up thousands of hits in the network. Naturally, social distance is out of the question here. Going to swim in the sea, they again find themselves in the crowd already in the water.

“Look at the number of people on the beaches of the Olympic Park. They are getting more and more every day," says the author of the video.

The situation is no better in the suburbs of the resort city of Anapa. It is very difficult to find free space, too.

“The central beaches are overloaded," Kazan tourists who went to Vityazevo told Realnoe Vremya. “You can try to avoid them from the side, but it is impossible to drive up to the coast by car. Wild beaches are not available.”

Most of the available urban beach area is owned by hotels, and the city ones are not expanded," explained the representative of the Kazan tourist business:

“Only those can get there who have package tours. Or one can informally pay the security guard at the entrance," he said.

Most of the available urban beach area is owned by hotels, and the city ones are not expanded. Photo: vk.com/bestanapa

The suburban coastal strip, where independent tourists like to stay, is not being developed. According to the representatives of the tourist industry, independent tourists should not look for other places, because now they simply do not exist. “If you want to rest in comfort, so that other people's bodies do not hang over you, buy tours," he said. “Or carefully study the territory — it will take a couple of days of your vacation.”

There is an unprecedented influx of tourists in the beach resorts of the Crimea. For example, Yelena Melnik, a resident of Kazan who went to rest in Yevpatoria, said: “Today the sea is a sea of people. It seems that everyone cancelled their reservations on the southern shore and Kerch and immediately rushed from the plane to Yevpatoria, where the sea is clear, the sun is warm and no flood.” In the conversation with Realnoe Vremya, she said that she does not rest on the most Central beach, but in the distance.

There is an unprecedented influx of tourists in the beach resorts of the Crimea. Photo: vk.com/evpatut

Rospotrebnadzor wants to limit Crimean beaches

After the natural disaster in Yalta, Rospotrebnadzor ordered to restrict the use of beaches in the areas of Crimea that have been affected by flooding most severely. As follows from the message on the official website of the department, in connection with the deterioration of the quality of sea water and in order to prevent acute intestinal diseases, sanitary inspectors decided to suspend the operation of beaches in some territories. Besides, a group of experts went to the republic to monitor the implementation of sanitary and anti-epidemic measures on the peninsula. Now the local authorities will have to clean up the coast from the mud, and this will take a lot of time.

“One should not forget that the Crimea had been under the control of Ukraine for more than 20 years. The engineering and tourist infrastructure of the peninsula has not developed for a long time, and therefore the authorities will have to work “rolling up their sleeves”. After all, there is a risk that with the opening of Turkey, tourists will stop coming en masse and prices may fall," said the general director of STEN travel company Leonid Press.

Russian tourists have begun to change their travel packages after Turkey opened. For example, Level.Travel booking service reported that after the decision to resume flights with Turkey, the demand for holidays in Russia decreased by 50%.

“People are changing tour packages to Russian resorts, there are requests for this, but so far it is difficult to estimate quantitatively," ATOR director Maya Lomidze told RIA Novosti.

Among the resorts for which the demand has fallen, all popular places for recreation are the Crimea, the resorts of Krasnodar Krai, Kaliningrad Oblast, St. Petersburg and others. “Quite a natural result. Most organised tourists choose a beach holiday in the summer, so Russian sea resorts are already crowded for several weeks. In Turkey, it is high season now — excellent comfortable weather, compared to the United Arab Emirates, a huge amount of free high-quality infrastructure, unlike Russian resorts, and relatively low prices — from 37,000 rubles for two people for 7 days.”

To Turkish coast

Charter flights to Turkey began to depart from Kazan from the first hours of the beginning of the federal operational headquarters's permission to resume flights from Russia. However, out of 10 flights announced, only three charter carriers confirmed their readiness in the online schedule of Kazan International Airport. In addition to the regular flight of Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, the first to fly to Antalya was the charter of Yamal Airlines, chartered by the tour operator TUI, Turkish charter carrier Azur Air, and A321 airbus of Nordwind Airlines, the press service of the Kazan Airport told Realnoe Vremya.

Charter flights to Turkey began to depart from Kazan from the first hours of the beginning of the federal operational headquarters's permission to resume flights from Russia. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Slots for flights to Turkey were distributed by the airport management almost manually. According to Realnoe Vremya's sources, Nordwind Airlines was one of the first to apply.

“Currently, the Kazan Airport, together with air carriers, is working on the issues of slotting (coordination of the schedule of aircraft movement) flights to Turkey. As soon as requests from airlines are received, the airport specialists process them, coordinate them and add them into the schedule," the IAC press service explained, adding that they ask passengers to follow the changes.

It should be noted that the slots were approved in cooperation with Turkish airports, which promptly made decisions on issuing a slot for receiving aircraft from Kazan. The final schedule was formed closer to 5 p.m. Thus, the number of announced flights exceeded the expectations of Kazan travel agencies, which predicted the departure of four to five direct flights a day. In fact, only three took off. For comparison, four flights to Sochi and two flights to Simferopol depart from Kazan on this day.

Against the backdrop of the opening of Turkey, airlines introduced promo prices for flights on June 22 and 23 to Sochi. Photo: Maksim Platonov

“Turkish hotels are not raising prices”

After the announcement of the resumption of flights with Turkey, agencies in Kazan opened sales with departure from June 22. More bookings are made at four-or five-star hotels.

“It is impossible to determine the price trajectory for the June tours, since there are thousands of hotels of different levels on the Antalya coast, and each of them conducts an independent marketing policy," says Leonid Press. “Of course, we must admit that the lockdown affected the business of Turkish hotels. When restrictions are lifted, they need to achieve fast occupancy, so they are not raising prices and taking a balanced approach to pricing.”

The press service of TUI tour operator said that their tourists are flying on a charter flight by Yamal airline. “Those who had planned trips for June 22, they fly a priori," the company explained. “Those who bought tours later will fly on the planned dates.” And those who still have reservations from last summer will fly on the dates agreed upon during the transfer: “They were offered transfer options, and they rescheduled their trips back in April-May.”

Against the backdrop of the opening of Turkey, airlines introduced promo prices for flights on June 22 and 23 to Sochi. A number of air carriers has the cost of these tickets is about 20% lower than regular prices. Outcoming flights are even cheaper. AVT CEO Azamat Sabirov believes that such steps are aimed at retaining the tourist flow against the backdrop of the opening of Turkey.

“I myself has recently flown to Krasnodar for 3,500 rubles. This is a very low price, equal to the cost of one hour flight, but we fly for almost 2 hours," he stated. “A large deferred demand has accumulated, which the leading tour operators have undertaken to restore. And carriers will have to keep attractive prices to maintain interest in Sochi and the Crimea.”

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan