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Kamchatka without Tourists
August 29, 2020 12:47


The coronavirus has radically changed the situation with tourism on the peninsula: the passenger traffic of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport has dropped several times, local entrepreneurs hope to get at least a third of last year's earnings. The thing is that most of the tourists are traditionally foreign tourists. For the bulk of Russian vacationers, a trip to the peninsula is too expensive.

On June 2, Yury Dud (journalist and blogger) posted on his Youtube channel a documentary about Kamchatka "The Peninsula We Forgot About." For   two months it has been viewed more than 10 million times. Immediately after the release of the film, the number of searches for flights to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky increased by 167%, Aviasales notes. The region entered the top five in the ranking of the most desirable places to visit within the country, according to a survey of the government portal about COVID-19 Stopkoronavirus.rf. Nevertheless, the passenger traffic to the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport since the beginning of spring on domestic routes has almost halved compared to last year: from March 1 to July 31, 2020, 174,357 people were transported.

The closure of borders due to the pandemic has changed the structure of demand for services in the tourism industry. “The flow of tourists is much less than a year ago. In addition, in 2019, 70% of tourists were citizens of other states and only 30% were Russians. This year only people from Russia can come to us," Ekaterina Anisimova, director of the region's largest tour operator Vityaz-Travel says. Citizens of the United States and European countries (Germans, as well as the French who cultivate ecotourism) come to Kamchatka during Pacific cruises. From Asia, tourists from China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan often rest on the peninsula.   Until July 15, restrictions on all excursion activities remained on the peninsula; by the end of the season, Vityaz-Travel expects to receive no more than 30% of last year's income.

Flight problem

Kamchatka has always remained a desirable, but inaccessible tourist destination, primarily due to the prices of air tickets and the cost of accommodation there. “The main problem that slows down demand is the high cost of the flight. The destination is not year-round and massive and is mainly in demand among wealthy tourists.

According to the tour operator, prices for flights from Moscow for August and early September in the package tour remained only at the highest fares. Those who managed to book earlier (in June and early July) got a round-trip ticket at a price of about 23,000 rubles. The last date of arrival in Kamchatka with Intourist tour operator is October 18. The operator's weekly program "Autumn Palette" includes accommodation in one of the hotels in the village of Paratunka with thermal springs and daily excursions. Its cost starts at 200,000 rubles for two people with a direct flight from Moscow. "This amount corresponds to the average check in the direction," said the representative of Intourist. “In addition, Kamchatka is participating in the Rostourism cashback project, and we sincerely hope that this project will spur demand for travel around the peninsula.”

According to Aviasales, from June 1 to August 16, 2020, bookings to Kamchatka increased by 4% compared to the last year. A  flight costs about 21,668 rubles on average, which is 12% cheaper than in 2019. The most affordable direct ticket from Moscow for the coming dates costs about 22,000 rubles.

Hotels, hostels, apartments

“It is important to understand that Kamchatka is even less obvious and popular   than Altai as a travel destination. The infrastructure (accommodation facilities and transport) is not adapted for the flow of tourists,” a representative of Aviasales says.

In the capital of the peninsula, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, there are only a few large hotels. The hotel booking service offers hotels of a category no higher than three stars. One of them is the Petropavlovsk complex, which has existed since the late 1980s. The cost of one night here is 6900 rubles. Another popular hotel in the city - "Avacha" - prices start at 11,700 rubles. At the same time, a hostel of the same name operates on the territory of the facility, accommodation there will cost 3000 rubles.

Another option is to rent an apartment or housing in the private sector. “In the summer season, we traditionally observe an influx of business travelers and tourists. And although a month and a half ago there was a lull due to the coronavirus, now the whole city is packed, neither we nor our colleagues from hostels have enough apartments,” a representative of the Five Stars apartment agency, which rents apartments for daily rent says. A one-room apartment with a modest renovation in the city center costs from 1800 rubles per day.

Many tourists prefer to be based in Petropavlovsk and go on excursions from the city: the Valley of Geysers, a lake with bears, climbing volcanoes, rafting down the river with fishing, a boat trip with viewing sea lions and killer whales - more than 20 directions in total. Moreover, most of the roads are gravel, independent travel is almost impossible. Muscovite Ilya Khrennikov, who is now traveling in Kamchatka, says that upon arrival in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, all passengers are forced to take a coronavirus test: the procedure is carried out in a special trailer right on the platform of the airport terminal, the cost is 1,550 rubles. “Most of the restaurants in the city are still closed, but there is a fish market with caviar and crab meat,” he says.

For wealthy clients only

In Kamchatka, there are constant requests for VIP tours with individual helicopter tours instead of group tours,  a representative of Intourist says. “This year the tourist is completely different: there are a lot of discerning guests. These are people who could afford to travel, for example, in Iceland, but came to us," Ekaterina Anisimova from Vityaz-Travel confirms. The company is part of a holding that includes the Vityaz-Aero airline (a fleet of 26 helicopters with a capacity of 4 and 25 people), an enterprise for fishing and processing of salmon, as well as a hotel at Timonovskie thermal springs. Vityaz-Travel offers both one-day helicopter and car-walking excursions along popular routes, as well as multi-day individual tours (including hunting and fishing). The average price of a voucher for a week is 180,000 rubles per person, excluding air travel to Kamchatka.

The cost of a helicopter excursion as part of a group is from 30,000 to 45,000 rubles per person, an individual flight starts from 0.5 million to 3 million rubles. 80% of sales come from the two most popular excursions: "Kuril Lake" and "Valley of Geysers". Last summer, the tour operator carried out up to 14 helicopter tours daily. This year -  7-10. The frequency depends not only on the flow of tourists, but also on the meteorological conditions, Ekaterina Anisimova says: “In August the weather is not good, excursions have to be postponed”. This season, Vityaz-Travel is mastering the niche of car tours, the cost of which is more democratic - on average, about 6,000 rubles per person. At the beginning of 2021, the holding plans to complete the construction of the first five-star hotel in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with more than 170 rooms.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Kamchatka    


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