The Public Chamber of Russia has proposed to increase the duration of the vacation for those who prefer to relax at domestic resorts, adding them another week of vacation. A member of the OP Sultan Khamzayev addressed the country’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin with a corresponding initiative. How feasible this idea is from the point of view of laws and whether there is a need for it – in the material of Izvestia.
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Hopelessness and sacrifice
Khamzayev announced that he had approached the Prime Minister with a proposal to increase paid vacations for citizens choosing Russian resorts on his Instagram.
“The increase in vacation for citizens vacationing in Russia is another incentive that allows, instead of sponsoring foreign tourism infrastructure, to direct funds for the development of domestic tourism,” he wrote.
He proposes to introduce an increase in the duration of the vacation for citizens who have a tourist voucher, paid for a period of at least ten days, or a paid hotel in one of the tourist zones of Russia.
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
In the letter, Khamzaev states that millions of Russians annually “sponsor foreign tourist infrastructure worth tens of billions of rubles”, but this money could remain inside the country, becoming a financial source for the development of resorts in Russia.
A member of the Public Chamber explained to Izvestia that in order to implement the project, the government will have to adopt certain regulations. The essence of the idea, he said, is that Russians who spend half of their standard vacation in Russia will receive an incentive at the expense of the state in the form of another seven days of rest… The condition for such an incentive is paid vouchers or hotels. A vacation at the dacha or a “savage” rest in a tent will not be enough for this.
– I’m not talking about the need to force people to rest for 35 days in Russian resorts, – said Khamzaev. – But half of the vacation can be spent in the mountains, for example, in Karelia. After all, Russian tourism is not only Crimea and Sochi, we have a fantastically beautiful country. The task is to stimulate our citizens, as is done today in many developed countries, to have a rest in their country, through various measures.
Infringement of rights
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy, Industry, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship Vladimir Gutenev, in a commentary to RT, called such incentives for citizens to have a rest in Russia, adding that it is necessary to understand whether the Russian resort territories have enough capacity, and also to find out the opinion employers in this regard.
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism Sergei Krivonosov told Izvestia that he allows such a way to stimulate domestic tourism, if it does not contradict the Labor Code and other norms established by law.
Problems may arise with this – the legality of such an initiative raises doubts. Maria Spiridonova, a member of the Russian Bar Association, managing partner of the legal “Leges-Bureau”, notes that this initiative is in general contrary to the Constitution and current legislation.
Photo: Izvestia / Alexander Polegenko
– The Basic Law directly enshrines the prohibition of discrimination on any grounds.– she told Izvestia. – If the situation of vacationers in Russia improves, in terms of extending paid vacation on the sole reason that they have not gone abroad, an unacceptable situation of infringement of the rights of a huge number of citizens who have independently chosen foreign tourist zones as their holiday destination will occur.
According to Spiridonova, one could argue here that the rights and legitimate interests of those who are vacationing abroad will not be violated, since their vacation will not be reduced. However, she emphasizes, “an unjustified improvement of the legal status of another group of persons without substantial grounds provided for by law and motivated by the need to ensure constitutionally significant values will constitute discrimination.”
– In order to increase the attractiveness of Russian resorts, it is necessary to apply not direct directive methods, but indirect economic, – the lawyer notes. – For example, to develop infrastructure, subsidize air tickets, pursue an economic policy to reduce the cost of recreation at Russian resorts.
In the tourism industry, the initiative was treated with extreme restraint. The Russian Union of Travel Industry stated that they are not yet ready to comment on this topic and will speak out on this subject if it becomes a reality. Most of the surveyed tour operators decided not to comment on Khamzaev’s initiative to Izvestia. At the time of publication of the material, Rosturizm did not respond to the request.
– This is an increase in vacation at the expense of the employer, – noted, in turn, the executive director of ATOR Maya Lomidze. – It seems to me that this is such an absolutely populist measure, which is proposed in the current situation: the president said about domestic tourism. But it seems to me that there will be no benefit neither for employers and enterprises, nor for the employees themselves. The measure is very difficult to implement. What then should be the changes in the Labor Code?
She notes that most Russians in fact cannot take leave of even 28 days in a row. By the way, the travel planning service OneTwoTrip recently conducted a survey of clients in social networks (the results of the study are at the disposal of Izvestia) and found out that most of them prefer to relax often, but little by little: 66.5% of the 2,570 respondents like to go on short trips regularly. At the same time, the majority, or 74% of the respondents, going on a long trip, gave preference to abroad.
Yulia Repnikova, head of the tour operator “Bolshaya Strana”, which specializes in tours around Russia, also considers the proposal to increase vacation time to Russians who choose domestic resorts unreasonable.
– As a representative of a tour operator and a search engine for Russian tours, I would like Russian resorts to attract my compatriots not only with a bonus in the form of a long vacation, but, first of all, with their content. – a high-quality infrastructure, a high level of service, a variety of types and programs of recreation, – she told Izvestia. – Therefore, if the state provides assistance, it seems to me that it is better to allocate it to measures to strengthen the market competitiveness of domestic tourism.
Repnikova notes that a real help to tour operators operating in Russia would be to expand the cashback program.
– Now only tours with accommodation in accredited accommodation facilities (hotels and camp sites) fall under this program – for example, in our field of outdoor activities, as a result, less than half of the offers fall under cashback– she said. – Many offers of active recreation with accommodation in tents, guest houses, glamping sites, mountain shelters and so on are not included in the program. – river rafting, hiking and horseback riding, expeditions and many others.
Repnikova notes that such tourism is to the liking of many Russians, and the example is shown directly by the President of Russia.
– But unfortunately, not all such tours fall into the cashback program due to bureaucratic difficulties and requirements for obtaining accreditation for accommodation facilities, She says. – We would like the support to extend to such proposals as well.
Maya Lomidze agrees: it was cashback that turned out to be the most effective measure to stimulate demand for a Russian tourist product.
Photo: TASS / Mikhail Tereshchenko
– Cashback in practice showed a real increase in flows – even in the low season at the height of the pandemic– she said. – Now we have allocated another 4.7 million rubles. to the program, but the key here is what further parameters it will have.
The extension of the tourist cashback program on Tuesday, April 27, was announced by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin at a cabinet meeting. He instructed Rosturizm and the Ministry of Finance to promptly prepare the necessary amendments to the rules for the implementation of the program.
Repnikova also noted that I would like to continue simplifying the process of obtaining a visa for foreign tourists and expanding the list of countries whose citizens can receive an electronic visa.
“Borders will be opened sooner or later, and in Russia we have a huge potential for nature tours and expeditions compared to many other countries of the world,” she said.