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St. Petersburg Local Tour Operators


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On 10/24/2020 at 2:09 PM, Ashland said:

If the policy changes for cruise excursions going forward...perhaps some of these private tour companies will be able to still take groups if vetted by the cruiseline . I would much prefer to be able to book private tours with just guide & driver and the two of us. We had an amazing two day tour of St Petersburg when we used TJ Travel. We've never been interested in large groups and prefer either two of us or a max of 6-8 people.

The cruise lines have historically tried to mislead you into thinking that you can only use their excursions or get your own visa. I cannot see them doing anything to make it easier for you as a cruise passenger to take an excursion with one of the many approved local agencies.

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On 10/25/2020 at 9:59 AM, Fran2020 said:

Does anyone know if they get any support from the government?

 

As small and medium businesses, Russian tour companies qualify for a pretty comprehensive stimulus package (off the top of my head, I can think of tax breaks and deferrals, moratoriums on ad-hoc fiscal and safety audits and creditor-initiated bankruptcies, as well as direct support, but I'm sure there's more to it). In addition, there was a substantial injection of cash to support domestic tourism (afaik, the government compensates 15 to 25 percent of domestic tour costs as instant cash back for consumers, provided that tours are  purchased from qualifying providers and via a qualifying payment system). 

 

Even with these measures in place, tourism industry has suffered a substantial blow, and there is little doubt the market will see some major reshuffling before things are back to normal. Frankly, I hope this reshuffling will lead to a more transparent and accountable market (remember recurring advice on these boards to pay with crisp US cash? How much of that cash do you think has ever made it into those companies' official books?)

 

That said, in the case of St. Petersburg, I believe the two most important components (world-class attractions and world-class talent and knowledge of individual guides) are still in place. Even if some companies go, there will be no shortage of others willing to take their spot - and no shortage of highly qualified guides to make it all work.

 

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18 hours ago, napoxoguk said:

As small and medium businesses, Russian tour companies qualify for a pretty comprehensive stimulus package (off the top of my head, I can think of tax breaks and deferrals, moratoriums on ad-hoc fiscal and safety audits and creditor-initiated bankruptcies, as well as direct support, but I'm sure there's more to it). In addition, there was a substantial injection of cash to support domestic tourism (afaik, the government compensates 15 to 25 percent of domestic tour costs as instant cash back for consumers, provided that tours are  purchased from qualifying providers and via a qualifying payment system). 

 

Good to know that some assistance is available.

 

18 hours ago, napoxoguk said:

Frankly, I hope this reshuffling will lead to a more transparent and accountable market (remember recurring advice on these boards to pay with crisp US cash? How much of that cash do you think has ever made it into those companies' official books?)

 

There are still some companies that accept payment in US dollars and euros cash. Like you, I rather doubt that these payments make it into the official books. I wonder how they are allowed to do this - does no one check? One of the major independent companies got into some serious trouble a few years back  for tax evasion. I would have thought that a lesson was learned but apparently not.

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On ‎10‎/‎30‎/‎2020 at 5:51 AM, napoxoguk said:

 

As small and medium businesses, Russian tour companies qualify for a pretty comprehensive stimulus package (off the top of my head, I can think of tax breaks and deferrals, moratoriums on ad-hoc fiscal and safety audits and creditor-initiated bankruptcies, as well as direct support, but I'm sure there's more to it). In addition, there was a substantial injection of cash to support domestic tourism (afaik, the government compensates 15 to 25 percent of domestic tour costs as instant cash back for consumers, provided that tours are  purchased from qualifying providers and via a qualifying payment system). 

 

Even with these measures in place, tourism industry has suffered a substantial blow, and there is little doubt the market will see some major reshuffling before things are back to normal. Frankly, I hope this reshuffling will lead to a more transparent and accountable market (remember recurring advice on these boards to pay with crisp US cash? How much of that cash do you think has ever made it into those companies' official books?)

 

That said, in the case of St. Petersburg, I believe the two most important components (world-class attractions and world-class talent and knowledge of individual guides) are still in place. Even if some companies go, there will be no shortage of others willing to take their spot - and no shortage of highly qualified guides to make it all work.

 

Thanks for a comprehensive reply, Napoxoguk,

 

good to hear these companies are compensated by the state. I was not really sure about Russian social security system, if it is good enough to support local businesses. If this is the case then you are right - even if some of the players go away, the most reputable and reliable should be able to survive. And yes, every problem can become an opportunity, and developing domestic tourism can be treated as an extra benefit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're booked on Queen Victoria, June 27th - Jul 5th next year. We had booked Cunard excursions, but they have just been cancelled! Previously we had used TJ Travel, which was excellent. Cunard are telling me 'to keep everyone safe' we cannot get off the ship 'independently' I know that is the usual patter, ambiguously talking about needing a visa, which the local companies also provide, but in these strange times has anyone else been told this and can they enforce it? Local companies will be devastated if it is so. I have challenged this with Cunard, but they haven't replied. I wouldn't care - we'd actually booked with them and they cancelled two of the three we had chosen. This will be our fourth visit to St P's and we were hoping to do something different 

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5 hours ago, rockeress said:

We're booked on Queen Victoria, June 27th - Jul 5th next year. We had booked Cunard excursions, but they have just been cancelled! Previously we had used TJ Travel, which was excellent. Cunard are telling me 'to keep everyone safe' we cannot get off the ship 'independently' I know that is the usual patter, ambiguously talking about needing a visa, which the local companies also provide, but in these strange times has anyone else been told this and can they enforce it? Local companies will be devastated if it is so. I have challenged this with Cunard, but they haven't replied. I wouldn't care - we'd actually booked with them and they cancelled two of the three we had chosen. This will be our fourth visit to St P's and we were hoping to do something different 

I can't speak about either St. Petersburg or Cunard, but in these days of Covid many cruise lines are insisting that you take their tours or not get off the ship. This is so that they know where you have been and with whom. I don't think that this one is a visa question; rather it is a question of keeping Covid off the ship.

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6 hours ago, gnome12 said:

I can't speak about either St. Petersburg or Cunard, but in these days of Covid many cruise lines are insisting that you take their tours or not get off the ship. This is so that they know where you have been and with whom. I don't think that this one is a visa question; rather it is a question of keeping Covid off the ship.

Exactly correct. P&O are stating exactly the same, be it Barcelona or SP. 

In due course, if and when the Covid situation improves, the policy may change, but the current protocol states that when cruising resumes you either take an official tour that will keep you in a "bubble" or you stay on the ship.

 

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