Ukraine State Agency for Tourism Development Appeal

Ukraine State Agency for Tourism Development Appeal

Mariana Oleskiv, Chair for the Ukraine State Agency for Tourism Development summarizes the current state of the tourism reality for Ukraine

For the past few years, despite the Covid pandemic, the Ukrainian tourism industry was showing signs of recovery. We expected more tourists to come in 2022. Those plans were totally ruined on February 24th when Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air, and sea trying to ruin our peaceful cities, historical buildings, and museums, killing innocent children!

The Russian Federation has carried out a deceptive and absolutely outrageous military attack on my country!

Just imagine, in 2022, cruise missiles attack residential neighborhoods, kindergartens, and hospitals in the heart of Europe. The price Russia pays for this “tourism” is thousands of dead Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, the price Ukraine pays is thousands of civilians killed while beautiful towns, historical buildings, and museums have been destroyed.

The armed forces and citizens are defending Ukraine till the end! The whole world is repelling the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions. The enemy must suffer significant losses. By starting an unprovoked war against Ukraine, the Russian Federation blatantly violated the principles of international law, enshrined in the United Nations Charter and other numerous international documents.

In this case, I appeal to the entire global travel industry for action!

We appearl to stop all travel to Russia and to cut off any cooperation with the aggressor country. I am grateful to those of you who have already stopped cooperation with Russia. But in many cases, there are half actions or no actions at all.

I appreciate the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Secretary and those members of the executive council that supports suspending Russia’s membership. I appeal to all member states to vote for this decision at the General Assembly that will take place in the near future.

At the same time, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has not yet taken any action to stop cooperation with Russia.

I am also thankful to foreign booking platforms like Expedia, Airbnb, and Booking Holdings for suspending all operations in Russia and travel services in Belarus.

Many EU and American airlines for suspending all flights to and from the Russian market, GetYourGuide, and Rick Steves’ Europe, which stopped offering experiences in Russia.

There are also a few hotel chains that have withdrawn from Russia. Nevertheless, just a half of the sanctions don’t work and to stop Russia it is necessary to cut off any cooperation with the aggressor country.

I am grateful to Marriott International Inc an American hospitality company with 10 locations in Russia and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, an American hospitality company with 29 locations in Russia, Hyatt Hotels Corp, an American hospitality company with 6 locations in Russia, for their decisions to close their corporate offices in Moscow and pause the opening of upcoming hotels and all future hotel development and investment in Russia.

However, hotels under Marriott and Hilton brands still operate in Russia and companies are not taking any action for a ban on the use of these corporate names.

InterContinental Hotels Group, a British hotel operator with 29 hotels in Russia, suspended its investments in Russia on 10 March 2022.

However IHG are still actively taking bookings and there is a new Crowne Plaza opening in Moscow in June.

A few days ago Accor Group announced that all management operations including booking, distribution, loyalty, and procurement services to hotels for which owners are included on any international list of sanctions will be suspended. However, ACCOR is still confirming rooms in their hotels in Russia. 

Till now all of the Turkish tour operators continue to work with the Russian market and sell tours to Russians.

Air Serbia, Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airline, and Etihad Airways continue to provide Russians with flight tickets.

With many routes to and from Russia effectively closed, owing to the imposition of sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, air travel via Serbia, Turkey, and the UAE surged by over 200% on pre-pandemic levels.

As a result, Russians can still travel to any European, Asian countries and the even USA without problems.

Everyone needs to understand, when they bring travelers to Russia, when they cooperate with Russia, they also bring them Dollars or Euros. Such hard currency will support Putin’s aggression.

It is a terrible crime against humanity and today, Russia has decided to threaten the whole world with nuclear weapons.

Mariana Oleskiv, Chairperson

I also highly appreciate any help from our partner countries. Nevertheless, a lot of them continue to accept Russian travelers. 

One of the most important issues for us is a suspension of Russia’s membership in UNWTO. I would appreciate any help with reaching Ministers from the Member States to get their support in this.

We are confident that just a strict ban will help to stop the disgraceful military aggression.

Stop Russia! Stop the war in Ukraine!

Taking this opportunity let me express my deepest respect to the team of the World Tourism Network and the SCREAM for UKRAINE campaign.

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