Ukrainians are selling tour packages to Belarusians and Moldovans

Ukrainians are selling tour packages to Belarusians and Moldovans
Photo: Reuters

The tourism industry in Ukraine has taken a nosedive. At the end of September, the demand for early booking tours during the winter vacation period in 2015 dropped by nearly 80% compared with the same period of last year, says General Director of IdrisKa Tour Olena Subbotina. “Sales have hit rock bottom,” confirms Director of Poekhali s Nami travel agency chain Oleh Kulyk.

At the moment, tour packages are being sold for October or the start of November at the most, but no further, adds Deputy Commercial Product Director of News Travel Vadym Chertkov.

Commercial Director of Natalie Tours Ivanna Chuchman also confirms the low sales depth (the period prior to vacation time – Capital) two-three months in advance. “What is your sales depth? Approximately 17-20 hours,” jokes coordinator of the NGO League of Travel Agencies Oleksandr Bilous, specifying that last year the sales depth reached close to 9-10 months.

New factors

The decline in the sales of tour packages abroad has been observed in Ukraine since February-March. “Due to hryvnia devaluation, the prices of tour packages for Ukrainians increased by nearly 85%. In these conditions, many had to postpone their vacations to a more favorable time of year,” tells Subbotina. In addition to that sales were affected by the annexation of Crimea and the anti-terrorist operation in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which cut off a part of consumers from the services of Ukrainian tour operators.

The lack of choice has been added to the now standard set of reasons for the decline. “Tourists do not have much to choose from. All tour operators are very slowly and with great consideration offering winter tour packages as they don’t know how many flights will be open or their destinations,” says Chuchman.

Friendly neighborly help

Clients of neighboring countries could help boost the tourism industry. At the moment, 80% of early booking tours are sold to citizens of Belarus, admits Vadym Chertkov. “Last year, they accounted for at least 10% of sales,” he recalls. Chuchman noted the same ratio of sales.

The demand of Belarusians for the services of Ukrainian travel agencies is due to the limitation of the map of flights from the country, explains Chertkov. Citizens of the neighboring country fly to the United Arab Emirates, India, Sri Lanka and less to Egypt from Ukraine. “At the moment, we do not have long distance aircraft, which is why we cannot offer direct flights to Southeast Asia,” explains Deputy General Director of the largest Belarusian air company Belavia Igor Cherginets. The company is planning to open long-distance flights in a couple of years, he says.

It is much more convenient for many Belarusians to travel to Kyiv airports than to Minsk, adds Director of the Tourist Information Center Volodymyr Tsaruk. “For some tour operators clients from Belarus ensure a decent load of charter flights,” he says. Moreover, tours on flights from Minsk are more expensive than from Kyiv for many residents of Mogilev, Gomel and other cities bordering on Ukraine. The distance to Kyiv is not much greater than to the capital of Belarus. For instance, a tour package to Tunisia from Belarus costs from US $600-650 for two passengers for one week and from Ukraine – US $450-500.

Ukrainian travel agencies are also actively offering their services to Moldovans. Chuchman says they purchase blocks of seats on regular flights directly from Chisinau to Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Active work with the citizens of neighboring countries will not fully cover the losses of the Ukraine’s tour operators from the declining sales of vacation tours to Ukrainians. For instance, as of September 23 New Travel sold 300 winter tour packages, while last year the figure was 1,100. This might force travel agencies to dump prices for destinations that are in least demand.

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