Russia Puts Chinese Tourists Groups on Hold Amid Virus Outbreak

Russian tour operators have put group tours from China on hold as the country is fighting the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Russian Union of Travel Industry said in a statement, adding that Monday, January 27, has become the last day Russia accepted Chinese tourist groups, Radio Liberty reports.

“The Chinese authorities have not issued a centralized travel ban. Instead, they have delegated the decision to the regions, so each Chinese province made a decision separately. Some provinces reacted swiftly, while others took their time. Even yesterday, we were still processing groups, checking visa-free travel lists. By this moment, all lists are void, all group tours from China are suspended,” the Union said, citing Alexander Agamov, CEO of World Without Borders, a travel association that unites almost 200 Russian companies working with the Chinese market.

The tourists who have already entered Russia will not be forced to interrupt their tour and to leave the country ahead of schedule, he noted.

The travel ban for Chinese tourists may reduce tourist flow from China in the first quarter of 2020 by some 70-80%, Agamov told TASS. In the first three months of 2019, 130,000 Chinese tourists visited Russia, and in 2020, this number was supposed to increase.

While making his predictions, Agamov assumed that the travel ban would hold until mid-February. In this scenario, the tour companies would be able to catch up before the end of this year. However, the related industries – hotels, museums, airlines – would have a hard time, especially during the low season, he speculated.

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