Summer is a little life, at least a vacation. Belarusians, longing for the sea during the pandemic, are already dreaming of warm coasts. Myfin.by has found out which of them are available today and how much it costs. At the same time, we report whether it’s a long flight and how prices have changed in comparison with previous years.
There are not enough travel agencies for everyone.
The Belarusian travel industry has been under attack for two years: first the pandemic, then the closure of land borders, then the air blockade, all this dealt a heavy blow to the industry, which is based on private companies. This year, many countries loosened quarantine restrictions and, as of July 1, one by one, they completely lifted them, allowing people to travel.
What was the damage to the domestic travel industry, how many companies went bankrupt and closed, and will it prevent Belarusians from going to the sea in summer? According to the site editor of the Union of Travel Organizations (UATO) Lilia Kobzik, it is difficult to name the exact figure.
- The industry has suffered, not everyone survived hard times, when first all destinations were closed, and then most of them, while some companies “lost” money that had already been transferred to foreign counterparts. And the inability to return the money pretty badly undermined both the operator and the agent market. But there is no accurate statistics – neither in the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, nor in Belstat – it is impossible to say how many firms have disappeared. Besides, many have not closed down, but shrunk to the maximum, and with the opening of the borders, most will resume their work,” she reassured.
The borders are open, the pandemic is forgotten.
And there is a lot of work – Belarusians miss their holidays by the warm sea. But since many destinations remain closed for reasons other than the pandemic, there is not much choice.
And yet, according to Galina Kravchenko, the head of the travel company VIPTURS, despite the new barriers, there are more opportunities to travel today in comparison with the last year.
- In Europe, a lot of countries have abolished the quarantine requirements for psr tests since June 1, while visa centers of several EU countries have started issuing visas to Belarusians. So, there is an opportunity to travel independently. In addition, with the opening of the borders in the EU, bus tours, which were lost for a long time, are coming back to life. But traditionally, the most popular destinations are “beach” Turkey, Georgia, Egypt, – said Galina Kravchenko.
Unbuckle your seat belts: the flight is crazy
Here we should make a note – “a flight to the sea” does not mean “a comfortable way to the beach resorts. Today, the only destinations for direct flights from Minsk are Turkey and Georgia. But to Turkey, for example, though the flights are “direct” (no transfers), but not on the map – you need to avoid not only the Ukraine, but also the closed by the Russians because of hostilities, so instead of 3-3.5 hours in the plane you have to spend all six.
But this is not the worst option. We were told by one of the largest domestic travel agencies – “Tez-tour” (they offer four vacation options – Turkey, Greece, Egypt, and Russia) – sometimes the flight takes much longer.
- For example, now you can take a direct flight from Minsk to Turkey – without refueling and changing, even if it takes six hours. It’s much more problematic to get to Greece: you take off from Minsk at 01:50 pm with a two-hour stop in Dubai; as a result, you land in Athens at 10:50 pm,” manager Ekaterina said.
- From June, 1 you can fly to Spain, Albania, Italy, Montenegro, Greece with direct flights from Vilnius, Warsaw, Riga. You can fly to Istanbul with Belavia, and from there again to Greece, Italy, Spain. But summer of 2022, there are four major destinations for the Belarusian tourists: Turkey and Georgia, which most of them choose, as well as Egypt and the UAE,” said Lilia Kobzik.
“The sought-after Caucasus, abandoned Egypt.
She also added that Georgia is very popular among the Belarusians in 2022. The reason is superficial – direct flights and inexpensive trips.
- Unfortunately, the flight program to Batumi was reduced, but travel agencies “redirected” people to flights to Kutaisi and organized transfers – because there were already sold a lot of tours, – said Lilia Kobzik.
Georgia, which was a hit few years ago, has now confidently pressed Egypt, the leader of former years. All because of the closed for the Belarusian airplanes sky of Ukraine and the lack of direct flights. Today it takes long to fly and the flight is not direct either – via Kazakhstan, where you have to sit for an hour in the plane while it is refueled at Aktau airport. I end up spending 10 hours in the plane. Such a quest is beyond the power and pocket of many.
Because of the heavy flight time (8 hours plus refueling in Aktau), the program to Egypt was reduced, and it certainly will not be destination #1 this year. Turkey will most likely take the first line in the ranking, although it is difficult to judge about the ranking, when the market of resort destinations has shrunk to four countries with flight from Minsk, – said the expert.
People even go to the Crimea!
Are Belarusians interested in such a destination as Russia? It would be logical: you don’t need visas, you can get direct flights, there is no language barrier. In particular, to the “resorts of Krasnodar Krai”, are there many people interested?
- At the moment about 95% of people calling to us are interested in Turkey, the second place is occupied by Egypt with flight from Moscow. Then Greece and other countries, where you can fly to with regular flights, – said manager of “Tez Tour” Ekaterina.
- The Belarusians have got used to Russian resorts for decades. We know that there is a huge range of tourist products in Europe, as well as in Turkey, in South-East Asia, but the Russian resorts – for example, those in Sochi – are very expensive. Rest in Sochi is comparable in price with five-star Turkey, but the choice of recreation options in Turkey is much more – explained Lilia Kobzik.
- There is a demand for Russia, it is higher than last year. The other day a family of six came here with a desire to rest in Gelendzhik. They fly to Sochi, other places in Krasnodar region, but the flow does not compare with the Turkish or Georgian. After the cancellation of psr-tests, Belarusians go to rest somewhere, even to the Crimea,” said Galina Kravchenko.
She also noted that with the “beach” variant of the vacation, people choose cheaper tours for a simple reason – the cost of airfare has increased.
- We have to pay a lot more: a tour for a family of three became more expensive by a thousand rubles only because of fuel costs. This is one of the reasons why vacationing in Belarus has become popular today. Yes, more people fly to the sea today than last year, a lot more. But it’s a long way to the pre-pandemic times. I would say so – those who fly to rest continue doing so whenever possible. And since there are more opportunities, the number of Belarusians at the seaside resorts has also increased, – Galina Kravchenko shares her conclusions.
It was not cheaper, it is because of Germans and Englishmen.
And about the prices. If you think that the pandemic has reduced them and you will be able to relax cheaper than before, it’s an illusion.
- The minimum price for 10 days is 1188 rubles per person. This amount includes a flight, accommodation, transfers, insurance. For 7 days in the same Kemer, you can have a budget rest for 1066 rubles – the difference is not much. But in addition to the cost of travel will have to pay a “fuel surcharge” – 120 euros, “non-flight insurance” – 15 euros and the airport fee – 5 euros. This is in addition to the prices you see on the site – gave a breakdown of the “Tez Tour”, when we asked for the most budget option.
- No one, neither travel agencies, nor hotels, nor carriers have reduced the cost of their services. The market does not adjust to economic opportunities of Belarusians, and losses incurred during the pandemic should be compensated. Although I can see from the agent reviews that many tourists would like to see lower prices. It is important to understand that for two years, Europeans were at home because of the pandemic, and now, when the borders opened, millions of Germans and Britons are rushing to the sea. The demand is big, it pushes the prices up, – outlined the situation Lilia Kobzik.
- The most budgetary holiday – $360 – three stars in Turkey, trip for 7 days. Plus additional fees, in the amount of 140 euros per person – the head of the tourist company “VIPTURS” gave a clear answer.
What about Greece? Egypt? It requires more than the average salary of an average Belarusian… As for Greece, you can fly there only with connection. And only regular flights and the ticket price rises as the date of departure and the aircraft occupancy rate.
- The minimum price of the tour is 2587 rubles for 8 days/7 nights. Today there is an extra charge for the flight – 1470 rubles,” they say in “Tez Tour”. – Egypt with a flight from Moscow, where you get on your own. It will take a long flight – through Kazakhstan. Minimum cost – $1499 for two people for a package of eight days /7 nights in a three-star hotel. Plus extra fees. You can pay in installments – 25% at once, and the remainder 2 weeks before departure. If you take out travel insurance, in the event of force majeure, the entire cost of the tour is refunded. Except for the amount of insurance.
In reality we did not manage to meet the cheap tours to Georgia, which can be found in ads. Everywhere 2000-2200 rubles for a double room with the option of 8 days/7 nights turned into “from $1300”. Nevertheless, this is the best, in terms of price, of a beach vacation in the Caucasus today.