The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) and representatives from Greece’s Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies’ (HATTA) discussed the impact of the Russian-Ukraine conflict on tourism, during an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, expressing at the same time solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its travel trade partners.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has stunned the whole world. There is no justification for such an attack on a sovereign country, killing and displacing many innocent Europeans,” said ECTAA President Pawel Niewiadomski in a statement.
“Travel and tourism stand for peace and cultural understanding. ECTAA deeply condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine. We urge for a swift and peaceful end to the terrible conflict,” he added.
With regard to Greece, HATTA President Nikos Kelaiditis stressed the importance of reaching out to new markets to cover the gap created by the conflict which will lead to a drop in travelers form Russia.
In this direction, Kelaiditis proposed drawing up a strategic plan to promote tourism to Europe in distant markets such as the US, Canada, Latin America, Southeast Asia-China, Australia, Africa, the UAE and India, so that EU member states are able to compensate for the tourist losses from the Russian market in 2022 but also to enhance tourist flows from these markets to European destinations.
Russia is one of Greece’s main source markets bringing in 2019 some 583,000 Russian travelers. Other EU countries to be impacted include Finland, Estonia, Germany and Italy.
Earlier this week, Rostourism, Russia’s federal agency for tourism, recommended that Russians take leisure trips only to countries that have not imposed sanctions such as “Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, China, India, Vietnam”.
ECTAA also confirmed that bookings had stopped but there had been no cancellations so far. Travel and tourism associations are also concerned about the imminent rise in fuel prices and the impact on travel spending.
ECTAA members will hold a new meeting next week to assess the situation.