The Russian government has decided to extend the possibility of returning money to tourists on the so-called “covid” tours from the personal liability fund of tour operators of the Association “Tourist assistance”, as well as to partially change the procedure for the formation of claims and returns. Such information is contained in Resolution No. 598 and in the Order N977-p. Both documents were signed on April 15, 2021.
“To return to tourists and (or) other customers paid or for a tourist product in the field of outbound tourism, the sums of money under agreements for the sale of this tourist product, concluded until March 31, 2020 inclusive, from the funds of the personal liability fund of the tour operator in the field of outbound tourism on the basis of a notification of return of the indicated sums of money presented by a tour operator operating in the field of outbound tourism in the association of tour operators in the field of outbound tourism, ”the document says.
In addition, the order retains the size of the annual contribution to the FPO at the rate of 0.25% of the total price of the tourism product for the previous year.
The established rules only provide tour operators with the right to use the funds of the personal liability fund to return money to tourists under unfulfilled contracts, recalls founder of the law firm “Persona Grata” Georgy Mokhov… To do this, the tour operator must send an appropriate notification to the Tourpomosch association within 1 month (in the previous version, within the notification period – 2 weeks) from the moment the RF Government makes a decision to return funds to tourists from the fund.
After submitting a notification, the tour operator has six months to form a register of requirements and transfer documents to the Tourpomposch association. The latter makes payments within 60 days from the date of receipt of all the necessary documents from the tour operator. Thus, from the moment the tour operator submits the notification to the moment the tourist receives the money, it can take up to nine months.
“Tour operators who have received an insurance exemption will have to replenish the fund to the required proportion. In addition, from 2022, insurance companies plan to stop insuring the financial liability of tour operators, and in this case, the FPO amounting to 7% of the total price of a tourism product for the previous year will become the only type of financial support available to most tour operators. Taking into account the fact that tour operators will have to significantly increase their FPO, it is unlikely that many of them will dare to take money from there now, ”says Georgy Mokhov.
According to Director of the Association “Tourist Assistance” Alexander Osaulenko, in fact, we are talking about extending the validity of the order of returns from the FPO, which was adopted in the spring of 2020. Then about six companies were able to use their funds for refunds to tourists, and the total amount of refunds was about 14 million rubles. However, then the mechanism turned out to be quite complicated and confusing for many tour operators. How much easier it will be to take advantage of the updated regulations is not yet clear.
The question of whether all FPO funds will be enough for refunds on “covid” rounds also remains unanswered. According to Oleksandr Osaulenko, tour operators have already been able to fulfill their obligations under about half of the agreements on the sale of tourism products in the field of outbound tourism, concluded before March 31, 2020, in addition, most tourists intend to wait for tours for the rescheduled dates.
Nevertheless, the FPO for most mass tour operators is about 3% of the total price of a tourist product for the previous year, and there is a possibility that this money may still not be enough for a full refund for canceled or postponed tours.
Only important. For the pros only.