Kazan tourists 'pressed with negative information', but they still fly to the sea

Despite the fires in Turkey and floods in the Crimea and Sochi, Kazan residents are going to sea resorts without fear of contracting coronavirus

Kazan tourists 'pressed with negative information', but they still fly to the sea
Photo: Maksim Platonov

“No matter what they say about the popularity of historical attractions, but in the summer, most families rush to the sea, if there are no health restrictions," Sergey Pasechnik, the director general of Companion SP travel company, outlined the main trend of tourist preferences. Turkey, Greece, and Croatia remain the leaders of summer season. Every day, 10-11 flights depart from Kazan to the Antalya coast.

Going to the sea in the summer! Where else?

“The desire to go to the sea has been maturing among people since last year . They want to swim finally. To relieve all kinds of stress, relax," the director general of Companion SP travel company, Sergey Pasechnik, explains the tourist preferences of Kazan residents this summer.

In his opinion, there is no alternative to the sea in the high summer season, unless tourists have health restrictions. Excursion tourism scares people with that they can catch Covid-19 in a bus, but, for example, going to the North Caucasus and walking there in the mountains — it's for a big fan (especially if the family go on vacation with children).

The majority of participants of the tourist market categorically say: Kazan residents choose Turkey, it is, as always, the undisputed leader of the tourist season. And no wonder: now many of those who previously chose Spain, Italy, and France are forced to go there... For our beachgoers, the choice in Europe has narrowed significantly so far, so Turkey is out of competition. Sergey Pasechnik says that the popularity of the Turkish coast is supported by an “extended flight programme”.

“Ten years ago, there was an opportunity to buy cheap tours. But now (meaning the beginning of August) we need to stay relevant, we need to monitor specific hotels," he advises.

High season in Turkey does not frighten Kazan tourists

But nature has played a dirty trick on tourists this year. We remember how fantastically the Crimea and Sochi have been flooded recently. In Turkey, forest fires are raging now. New fires are appearing in several places along the resort coast at once. For example, on Thursday, a forest caught fire simultaneously in the mountains near Marmaris, in Bodrum, in Dalaman and in several other places — in total, Turkish firefighters counted more than 40 fires.

In Bodrum, the fire reached hotels. The five-star Titanic Hotel in Guvercinlik had to be evacuated: someone was moved to other hotels, someone was returned back after the fire was extinguished. Two hotels and several resort villas were evacuated on Thursday also in Marmaris.

“Fires in Turkey are an unusual, rare phenomenon for these resorts. For the first time, fires have occurred so close to the hotels in the resort area," says Sergey Pasechnik. “But you should not be afraid of them, because it's all local and quickly extinguished. The authorities quickly cope with this, because they do not have such a taiga as in Siberia. Turkey depends on tourism, and therefore the authorities are throwing a lot of effort at localising hotbeds of fire. The issue was resolved in one day.”

And Tatarstan residents, it seems, are not afraid of anything at all: travel agencies in Kazan reported that there was not a single refusal of a ticket in connection with the fires. The press service of TUI Rossiya and the representative office of Anex Tour reported that they did not even have to relocate tourists to other hotels. In general, not a single fact of evacuation was mentioned in any agency interviewed by Realnoe Vremya.

Travel agencies of Kazan reported that there was not a single refusal of a ticket in connection with the fires. Photo: facebook.com/alesya.pavlynska

Meanwhile, the Consulate General of Russia in Antalya has recommended that Russian tourists vacationing in fire-prone regions of Turkey be prepared for possible evacuation from hotels. According to the consulate, fires in the area of Manavgat and its environs, as well as on the Aegean coast in Marmaris, have already been confined, but the fire is still being extinguished in remote mountain ranges. The resort areas are out of danger, but the wind still brings smoke and the smell of burning there. This is what Russian tourists are complaining about now.

The Russian Foreign Ministryis monitoring the situation and reports that there are no reasons for the emergency export of Russian citizens from the territory of Turkey yet. But if necessary, crisis decisions will be taken to ensure the safety of Russians.

The cause of the fire may be a human factor, the Turks themselves believe, as well as the participants of the tourist market do. In the social networks of Turkish citizens, there is a video, in which the Turkish police detained a suspect in arson. For what purposes the criminals can wander through the forests and one by one set fire to tourist regions — numerous reports do not tell about them.

Almost 2,000 people a week fly to the sea

But let's get back to how the tourist season is going. The head of the Anex Tour representative office, Zaur Gadzhiev, shared with Realnoe Vremya:

“We send 10-11 flights to Antalya every week, and two more flights to Dalaman and Bodrum. With the opening of Turkey, Russian resorts have not changed their inflated pricing policy, so the main flow is flying to the Antalya coast.”

According to the estimates of travel agencies, up to 35 flights depart from Kazan to the country of all-inclusive and locum every week. No other destination can even compare with these indicators yet.

“August is traditionally a high season, so the cost of travel packages has increased," says Zaur Gadzhiev. “On average, now a ticket costs 60-65 thousand for two people for 10 days. Turkish sales are several times higher than sales to Russian resorts. The opening of Turkey has not led to an adjustment in prices for our hotels of the corresponding level, they are still more expensive than the Mediterranean coast.”

The head of the Travel and Work travel company, Yulia Talanova, confirmed that the resorts of Krasnodar Krai will cost 60-70 thousand for two, however, already for 7 days.

There are other destinations — compared to last summer, the choice can even be called worthy. Of course, Spain, France and Italy are still closed for our tourist. But there are other fish in the sea. However, there is a nuance: it is not so easy to decide on the rules of entry, which are constantly changing.

“In addition to Turkey, there are Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia. The choice is getting wider, but I even get lost — and where can I really go and what are the rules of stay? They change every 2 weeks. First, it is announced that 28 countries are open to Russian tourists. But when you start find details, it turns out that it is open, but only for business trips. There are still a lot of restrictions," complains Sergey Pasechnik.

There are other destinations — compared to last summer, the choice can even be called worthy. Photo: atorus.ru

Without PCR tests — welcome to Albania!

According to Yulia Talanova, PCR tests are not required yet in the Crimea and in Albania (flights to this country that is not obvious for tourism have recently opened from Samara).

Travel agencies believe that the flow of tourists could have been greater if not for the coronavirus restrictions and the gloomy news background.

“Our tourists are being so pressed with negative information — floods in the Crimea, then in Sochi, then the requirements for mandatory vaccination. A stream of “scaring stories” is pouring on tourists and they have to stay at home. It comes to the point of absurdity — you can come here, but you can't come there. The night of graduates Scarlet Sails in St. Petersburg was widely broadcast on TV screens, but then everyone was intimidated — not to walk in parks, not to sit on city benches," Sergey Pasechnik is indignant.

The head of STEN travel agency, Leonid Press believes that tthe choice is limited his season.

“In fact, everyone is waiting for the opening of Europe," he said. “Kazan residents love the Czech Republic, Spain, and Italy. But they are still closed, so it is difficult to talk about it now.

Domestic tourism: everyone in masks

Travel agencies working on domestic destinations are also still “stumbling”.

“Since July 12, Volgograd has imposed a ban on visiting cultural institutions without PCR tests. It's good, at least you can check in hotels," says Yulia Talanova. “So, on the way to the Crimea, bus travellers can still stop there.”

The programme "1000 and one pleasure for a weekend” operates in Tatarstan, and the results have not yet been summed up, the press service of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan told. Tatarstan residents are happy to travel around their native republic: Yelabuga and Bolgar tell about a large flow of tourists, including from Kazan. Traditionally, river flights to Sviyazhsk remain popular.

Artem Silkin, the director of the Island-Town Sviyazhsk Museum-Reserve, says:

“A year ago, tourist flows to cultural institutions only began to recover and no longer caused the previous fears and concerns about a serious decline in attendance and the inability to achieve the former indicators. Throughout the entire 2020, the number of visits gradually increased, a number of restrictions were introduced and cancelled due to the sanitary and epidemiological situation, and all this directly affected the statistics of all cultural institutions. However, the museum-reserve Island-Town of Sviyazhsk, despite the serious restrictions imposed, was able not only not to lose visitors, but also to increase the capacity without weakening the measures.”

To date, visitors without personal respiratory protection equipment (masks) are not allowed, social distancing is mandatory, cleanliness is provided daily in the halls of the divisions, wet cleaning and disinfection is carried out, on a permanent basis, during the visitors' stay in the museum, the common areas are ventilated to avoid the accumulation of microbes. Besides, containers with a sanitiser for hand treatment are installed at the entrance groups of all museum objects: museum visitors and tourists, without visiting the museum's exhibition space, can use them independently. The museum-reserve, due to the presence of a vast territory, was able to coordinate flows, attracting people to excursion programmes that do not imply a permanent location indoors, but are held outdoors, because the risk of spreading under such conditions of interaction is much lower.

In this regard, the number of tourists has increased: this year, from May 1 to today, 402,005 people have visited the Sviyazhsk Island-Town, while in 2020 this figure reached 107,651 people over the same period, while in 2019, 303,380 people visited the museum-reserve in May, June and July.

This year, from May 1 to today, 402,005 people have visited the Island-Town of Sviyazhsk. Photo: dmckazan.ru

The tourist flow, as it happens, is heterogeneous: visitors come from all corners and regions of our vast country, often people come for the weekend from neighbouring republics (Chuvashia, Mari El, Udmurtia, Bashkortostan, etc.). In addition, residents of the Urals (Chelyabinsk Oblast and Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast), northern regions (Murmansk), Kirov, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, St. Petersburg often choose Sviyazhsk as one of the most striking sights of the Republic of Tatarstan.

We should add that four Soviet-made river vessels still run to Sviyazhsk. The launch of the Chaika ship was under discussion, but it is unknown when this will happen.

Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan