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Russkies in a Flussky : Russian travel companies goes under and leaves thousands stranded

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

The after shocks of economic sanctions on Russia following their involvement in Ukraine, are starting to bite. From the BBC news:

As many as 27,000 Russian tourists are stranded abroad after a Russian tour firm, Labirint, suspended operations.

A company statement (in Russian) blamed the move on a deterioration in the rouble exchange rate and the “negative political and economic situation”.

There are signs that EU-US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis are hurting the wider economy, including Western investment in Russia.

The same story is covered by IBTimes which adds that many tourists in Greece were booted out of their hotels as a result.

Greek media reports estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Russians were stuck on Greek islands. The country’s Tourism Ministry said, in a statement: “Greece is a safe and welcoming tourist destination that respects its guests.”

However, Russia’s Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has threatened to name hotels that had “mishandled” the situation. Some tourists were reportedly evicted from hotels, while others were apparently refused entry after Labirint’s bankruptcy was announced. ATOR would be adding hotels to a “blacklist”, it said.

Russian tourists are also thought to be stuck in Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Labirint announced it was stopping operations on Saturday and that Turpomoshch (Tour Help) would attempt to help passengers that were stuck.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your tour company or chartered airline goes under when you are on vacation ?

XL Leisure is a case study where it went under with 87,000 people were stranded and a further 200,000 had reservations for vacations, fights or hotels. This is where the importance of Travel Insurance kicks in where otherwise you are relying on goodness of strangers. In XL’s case, some airlines helped get people back at reasonable costs.

Those who booked with XL under ATOL had insurance coverage. Those who had private insurance needed financial failure cover had coverage. Booking with appropriate credit card (Gold / Platinum) may have provided travel insurance with respect to claim back.

If you are not dealing with a major company or airline and you have all your trip plans around one vendor, think strongly about this next time you book that bargain package.

Trajan