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Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The col­lapse of two Rus­sian tour op­er­a­tors in as many weeks has caused con­cern among Cypriot hol­i­day com­pa­nies, with hote­liers once again fear­ing they will be left un­paid or lose long-term book­ings.

On Satur­day, one of Rus­sia’s big­ger com­pa­nies, Labirint, an­nounced its bank­ruptcy, leav­ing about 25,000 tourists stranded in Greece, Turkey, Spain, Bul­garia and Cyprus, with the pri­mary rea­son be­ing the over­sup­ply and fierce com­pe­ti­tion among low-cost op­er­a­tors.

Labirint’s mother com­pany, Ideal-Tour, ac­cu­mu­lated debts of 31 mln eu­ros and on Satur­day morn­ing, Aeroflot’s hol­i­day car­rier Oren­burg Air­lines re­fused to board pas­sen­gers booked with the travel agency. Labirint and Ideal-Tour are Rus­sia’s fourth and fifth big­gest travel com­pa­nies. Stranded hol­i­day­mak­ers will be repa­tri­ated by the travel fund Tur­po­mosch, while a fur­ther 200,000 cus­tomers are booked on and have paid for their va­ca­tions un­til the end of Septem­ber, news sources sug­gested.

The big­gest hit mar­ket seems to be Greece with five flights can­celled to Corfu, Her­ak­lion, San­torini and Zakyn­thos. Un­for­tu­nately, this has also af­fected smaller cred­it­wor­thy tour op­er­a­tors whose seats have also been can­celled.

Labirint, that start op­er­at­ing to Greece in 1995, has re­cently sup­plied an av­er­age of 150,000-200,000 hol­i­day­mak­ers a year, with a fur­ther 10-15,000 a year to Cyprus, said Vic­tor Man­to­va­nis, Pres­i­dent of the is­land’s travel agents’ as­so­ci­a­tion ACTA.

“On July 16, another com­pany called Neva, that sent about 3,000 hol­i­day­mak­ers to Cyprus, sus­pended pay­ments to cred­i­tors,” Man­to­va­nis said.

He added that of the nearly 600,000 Rus­sian hol­i­day­mak­ers to Cyprus, the im­pact from the col­lapse was “min­i­mal” as the two com­pa­nies sold about 20,000 pack­ages for the whole year, most of whom have al­ready come and gone. How­ever, Man­to­va­nis warned that in re­cent years, there had been a rapid boom among Rus­sian tour com­pa­nies, with some of them ex­pand­ing too fast and be­yond their means, caus­ing a king of bub­ble. He said that this other bank­rupt­cies may fol­low.

Labirint and Ideal-Tour claimed that their demise was af­fected by the rise in ex­change rate of the rou­ble, mak­ing hol­i­days more ex­pen­sive, the neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cli­mate in the coun­try, the pre­ven­tion of mem­bers of the armed forces from trav­el­ling over­seas and the on­go­ing con­flict with Aeroflot’s sub­sidiary Oren­bourg Air­lines. Roza Vetrov Mir in Moscow also an­nounced its bank­ruptcy re­cently, while Expo-Tour of St. Peters­burg ad­mit­ted last month that it, too, was in fi­nan­cial trou­ble.

In a joint state­ment on Tues­day, the Min­istry of En­ergy, Trade and Tourism and the Cyprus Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion said that even though there has been no ma­jor im­pact, the main aim for all par­ties in­volved is “to main­tain the good rep­u­ta­tion that Cyprus en­joys by ex­hibit­ing proper hos­pi­tal­ity.”

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