Russian tour operators overestimated the demand for permits

Because of the crisis, the demand for tours in Russia began to fall in July. Operators are forced to dump, and the most burdened with debts - to leave the market.
Encouraged by the sharp increase in sales of tour packages during the early bookings, operators overestimated the buyers. Since mid-July, the number of Russians willing to spend summer vacations in foreign resorts has fallen significantly, forcing market participants to cut the declared flight programs by 10-20% and obviously dumping. But such a policy has already led to the collapse of the oldest operator "Natalie Tours" and a number of others and can provoke a new wave of bankruptcies of companies.

In August, the number of charter flights from Russia to foreign resorts will be reduced by 10-20% from the plans announced by carriers and travel agencies, told the "b" transport adviser to the head of Rosturizm Dmitry Gorin. He specified that the volume of flight programs will correspond to the level of July. Many tour operators prefer to combine their own flights, not allowing underloading of aircraft, said Mr. Gorin. According to him, the company hoped this summer to send more tourists to rest than in 2017, so in advance increased the number of charter flights and armor in hotels.

"Tour operators made optimistic plans because of the rush demand for tour packages during early booking (when buying a package in this period, a 30% discount is given to" Kommersant ")," explains the adviser to the head of Rosturizm. Traditionally, during the early bookings, tour operators realize 35-40% of the planned program for the summer, and this year the figure has increased to 50%, specifies the sales director of STC Intourist Sergey Tolchin.

This inspired the market participants, who hoped for the growth of sales and at the height of the summer season. "But real growth has not happened, it is already obvious that about as many people will go abroad as they did last year," Mr. Tolchin said. Sales growth stopped in mid-July, now they are at the level of 2017, confirms Dmitry Gorin.

The only direction where growth is still possible is Turkey. "But, most likely, the reason can be just an oversupply of charters, because of what tour operators are forced to dump, sometimes selling travel packages at a loss," - says Sergei Tolchin.

A similar forecast is made by the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze: in her opinion, the growth of the exit flow to Turkey and Spain will be about 10%, some directions will show a slight decline.

The press service of Tez Tour explains that now it is a question of "point optimization of flights" to Antalya from some Russian cities, where demand is traditionally lower than in Moscow. But according to another interlocutor of Kommersant, it's not possible to correct the programs painlessly for all companies: "Those who do not have their own or affiliated airlines are forced to fulfill strict obligations to carriers and send half-empty planes to Turkey."

Another tour operator says that the situation was partially saved by the decision of Rosaviatsiya to reduce the number of charter flights of the airline "Yakutia" by 15% because of the admitted delays in departure. "This became a gift for us, since in this case the operators are not responsible to the carrier," he notes.

According to the estimates of's Igor Blinov, due to the redistribution of sales in the direction of early booking, now tours of the five most popular destinations (Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Tunisia, Thailand) are selling 30% worse than a year ago. "This is largely due to the fall in effective demand," he explains.

According to the expert, the current situation is pushing tour operators to additional marketing activities and increasing the commission to agents, an average of 7% on the market. "Many, as a temporary measure, add one to two percentage points to the basic commission," adds Maija Lomidze. "In order to further stimulate sales to a particular hotel, we add another 5% to the agency's core commission," Sergei Tolchin cites the example. The Tez Tour confirms that tour operators ask the hoteliers for special offers, hoping to stimulate demand.

General Director Level.Travel Dmitry Malyutin points to a noticeable increase in the number of shares and proposals for the tourists themselves, which is usually uncharacteristic for the middle of the summer season. Igor Blinov draws attention to the fact that due to unscheduled sales in the market a paradoxical situation has developed, when the packages now purchased are sometimes cheaper than those purchased under the early booking program.

But dumping does not solve the problem systematically, but, on the contrary, aggravates the situation. Including because of the decline in consumer demand for bankruptcy, one of the oldest tour operators, Natalie Tours, was forced to declare (the company should return 949 million rubles to tourists). At the height of the summer season, DSBW-Tours, Matryoshka Tour, Aurora BG, Intravel Stoleshniki and Rainbow Travel left the market.