As a result of the mounting impact from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a large number of travel companies have decided to cancel booked excursions to Russia. Various of them have raised worries about keeping visitors safe in the hazardous area, particularly in light of recent travel advisories issued by several countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, to its residents. Additionally, firm officials said that they want to exert pressure on Russia in order to bring the invasion to a close.
As G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Trip said, “the health and safety of our guests is of highest priority to us.” Poon Trip’s comment was repeated by other tour operator executives in response to his company’s decision to suspend its Russia tours for the duration of 2022.
G Adventures has canceled 25 trips scheduled for Russia over the course of this year and next, and Poon Tip added that the company would no longer accept Russian nationals living in the country on its trips or accept bookings from Russian travel agencies in accordance with international sanctions against Russia.
The company’s actions, according to Poon Tip, are part of a wider travel industry strategy to force Russia to end the invasion. “We recognize that these sanctions will have an impact on everyday people who may not agree with Russia’s politics, but they are unfortunately necessary to apply pressure on the country and invoke change,” Poon Tip said, characterizing G Adventures’ actions as part of a wider travel industry strategy to force Russia to end the invasion.
Rick Steves, the well-known guidebook author, explained why his tour business, Rick Steves’ Europe, decided to terminate its Russia offers in a manner similar to the one used by his organization. In addition to bringing people to another nation, he said, “we also bring their money – money that would back (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s hostility.”
Meanwhile, tour operators that have cancelled their scheduled excursions to Russia are scrambling to repay passengers, which, according to Poon Tip, is difficult owing to the country’s bank restrictions, as well as offer them with alternate arrangements. Trafalgar Tours, whose U.S. president Melissa DaSilva said her business has four excursions to the country booked for this year, is offering customers the opportunity to reschedule their trip for a later date or to switch to a different itinerary in a different location.
According to DaSilva, “We are now working with passengers who have booked on itineraries that include travel to Russia to assist them in making the best travel selections for their requirements.”
While G Adventures and Trafalgar have categorically announced that they would not be sending clients to Russia throughout the remainder of 2022, Intrepid Travel is adopting a wait-and-see attitude, having merely canceled excursions to the nation until the end of June this year.
“We examine excursions around 5-6 weeks before to departure, checking at the legitimacy of operations, client safety, travel constraints, and other factors,” stated Matt Berna, Managing Director of Intrepid’s North American operations. He went on to say that if the government’s advice stay unchanged, visits to Russia will be canceled or diverted.
When, though, will tour operators be able to restart their Russian excursions?
Despite the fact that some executives were insistent about not committing to a timeline, Poon Tip said that a peaceful resolution to the conflict would prompt G Adventures to return to the nation, while Berna is passionate about doing tours in Russia once again.
“We are not boycotting all future excursions to Russia,” he added, adding that Intrepid does not consider trips that are cancelled due to safety concerns to be part of a boycott. “As soon as it is safe to do so, we will do all we can to help the people of Ukraine and Russia, rather than the Russian state, via travel. We are optimistic that a safe and peaceful resolution to this problem can be found shortly.”