For Russian Tourists, A Difficult Week

From having been stranded in their vacation destinations to being pegged as the world’s worst-dressed tourists, Russian travelers have suffered a particularly dreadful week.

On Sunday, about 90 Russian tourists were left waiting in the northern Croatian city of Pula after a plane destined for Rostov-on-Don and chartered by the Moscow-based CherryTur travel agency never arrived.

The problem, it turned out, was the company’s outstanding debt to a Croatian partner agency.

Earlier, Natalia Marcelli, the director of SOLEN, a Croatian travel company partnered with CherryTur, said the Russian travel company owes its Croatian partner several hundred thousand euros and that starting September 1, SOLEN would be unable to accomodate any tourists from CherryTur at its own expense.

“We have been waiting for several months for our partners in Russia, CherryTur, to pay a debt which amounts to several thousand euros,” she said on August 31.

Another group, which had arrived in Croatia earlier this week, was in for an even greater surprise: once they arrived, they realized their travel packages were never paid for. Instead, according to Irina Turina, press secretary for the Russian Union of Travel Industry, SOLEN gave them the option of paying for the package again or returning to Russia. Nine out of 11 chose to return home.

CherryTur director Dmitry Chepelov said on Friday his company was in talks with its Croatian partner over ongoing financial difficulties. The negotiations appeared successful when an earlier batch of Russian tourists, also CherryTur clients, were able to fly back to Moscow on Saturday.

But following Sunday’s debacle, the company was reportedly forced to suspend its operations after SOLEN refused to do business with it. Shortly after, the first plane finally left Rostov-on-Don for Croatia to ferry the stranded Russians back home.

Yet even before the unfortunate tourists found themselves stuck in the Balkans, their self-esteem may have taken a beating earlier this week after Skyscanner, Europe’s leading travel search site, found Russian tourists to be the worst dressed in the world.

The poll, which included 12,000 people in six countries, gave Russians only 13 points of out 60, with the British and Spanish being the toughest judges. Dutch and Turkish tourists were found to be the second and third worst dressers, respectively.

“The results of the survey are discouraging for our compatriots,” said Tatyana Danilova, Skyscanner manager for market development in Russia.

“However, what foreigners regard as poor style is often a style that evolved in a country that had long been isolated from the rest of the world,” she added.


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