The press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina, told reporters that the demand for summer educational programs abroad fell among Russian citizens as compared with the previous year due to the introduction of sanctions against Russia by the European Union. The falling demand is estimated between 20% and 50% vs. 2013.
"The beginning of this week was marked with another extension of the "black list" of the European Union for Russia. The list now includes more than 60 people whose entry to the EU was denied. Officials with foreign diplomatic missions have repeatedly stated that common Russians, who are going to travel abroad, do not have to fear the sanctions, because all countries are interested in increasing the tourist flow from Russia, and no one wants to build any obstacles in issuing visas to Russian tourists. Yet, many Russians take the sanctions policy personally, and the segment of educational tourism has proved to be most vulnerable in this respect," stressed Tyurina.
Tour operators say that many Russian parents decide to postpone sending their children abroad for language classes being concerned that they will be denied a visa. "Fortunately, there is no trend of massive claims for refunds for the previously purchased tours. However, the general demand for summer educational programs abroad noticeably subsided this year," said the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry.
According to her, residents in Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk succumbed to panic more than others. In Moscow, people are still willing to travel abroad. The number of refusals for language programs for students up to 16 years in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia is the largest.
Nevertheless, according to Tyurina, the consulates of these countries issue visas to Russians without any difficulties. "Against such a background, language camps in Malta and Cyprus are doing better, which can be attributed to their relative cheapness compared, for example, to the UK," the press secretary said.
Tyurina stressed out that "tour operators do not recall a similar situation with the demand for educational tours during the previous years. As a rule, any shocks in the economy for this type of tourism go more smoothly than, for example, in the sphere of beach or sightseeing holidays. "Studying abroad can be affordable to people with good incomes, and they are prone to crises to a lesser extent," concluded Tyurina.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Russian citizens have lost their money because of failed trips to the UK due to visa registration problems. The managing company of UK visa centers in Russia was changed at the end of March. As a result, many tourists began to receive their passports back after the date of their previously scheduled departure. There were incidents, when delays in receiving passports made up 2.5-3 months.
Such a situation has developed in all regions of Russia that have UK visa centers. The centers do not provide any confirmation for the date when applicants can collect their passports, and tourists can not prove that they received the documents after the previously set date. In this connection, insurance companies refuse to pay cancellation coverage, the Russian Union of Travel Industry said.