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PCT asks not to punish tour operators in Russia for errors in working with the “Electronic Tour”

The Russian Union of Travel Industry (RST) sent a letter to the Ministry of Economic Development with a request not to extend liability to tour operators of domestic and inbound tourism for violations when working with the Electronic Travel (EP) information system. Such companies are required to transfer data about sold tours there from September 1. Until this date, there was a deferment that was supposed to help market participants adapt to the changes. However, the public organization insists that the business is still not ready.

The fact is that in April, the requirements for protecting the information of automated workstations and information systems of tour operators connected to electronic signatures were updated. As stated in the letter, they were developed in pursuance of the Order of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia dated April 4, 2024. However, according to the forecast, unification and connection to the electronic digital signature will be unavailable for many tour operators due to the high cost and significant technical difficulties of this process.

According to PCT estimates, just assessing compliance with the requirements for the protection of personal data (PD) when manually entering information into an electronic signature and assessing the safety of workplaces will cost 150–200 thousand rubles. If the company plans to use automatic unloading, then the price will increase to at least 1.5 million rubles. In addition, the tour operator is obliged to develop 47 documents regulating the procedure for processing personal data and communicate their content to all employees, and monitor the implementation of these regulations. For small regional companies that form the basis of the tour operator registry, this is a big burden.

At the same time, the PCT notes that tour packages that include both transportation and accommodation are rare in the field of domestic tourism. Their share accounts for no more than 5% of the total tourist flow. This is due to the fact that most tourists get to their holiday destination themselves and use tour operator programs upon arrival in a particular region.

The situation with inbound tours is even more confusing. Domestic service providers act as hosts for foreign tourists. Moreover, they conclude an agreement not with a legal entity in Russia, but with a tour operator in their country. Therefore, the Russian incoming tour operator does not physically have access to all the information about tourists that is necessary to fill out the fields of the “Electronic voucher”.

“Thus, the introduction of the UIS ES for tour operators selling tourism products in the field of domestic and inbound tourism is an impractical, expensive, technically difficult process that will not lead to any quality results, but will have a negative impact on the development of the industry in the long term “- indicated in the letter addressed to the head of the Ministry of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov (a copy is available in the editorial office).

This point of view is supported by the heads of two tour operators consulted by the editors. They recalled that initially the “Electronic Travel” had two tasks. The Federal Tourism Agency wanted to know how many tourists are abroad in a particular country in order to assess the scale of export flights in the event of force majeure. The second argument was related to checking the compliance of the number of tourists sent with the insurance coverage of tour operators. Both arguments were relevant after a whole group of companies involved in outbound tours went bankrupt in 2014.

However, there were no such shocks in the sphere of domestic and inbound tourism. Tourists traveling in Russia do not need to be taken out, and all domestic tour operators have the same financial guarantees – 500 thousand rubles. As for the task of collecting statistics on sales, it does not make sense, since the “Electronic Tour” will include data on only a small part of tourists traveling around Russia. The majority do not buy tours, but book services on aggregators, and they are not tour operators and will not transmit information to the system.

Tour operators call the “Electronic tour” inappropriate. According to them, mainly large players who could afford automation joined it. Small companies are just starting to try, they are mastering manual data transfer, but slowly.

Those who are delayed or ignore the requirements risk being kicked off the register in the fall. But many are waiting, hoping that the “Electronic Tour” will be canceled due to all the arguments listed above – at least for domestic and inbound tourism.

However, the Ministry is unlikely to agree to this. The system has already been implemented for outbound tourism, so allowing fragmentation of information about sold tours would be strange from the point of view of the integrity of the system. In addition, the state spent at least 550 million rubles on the creation of the electronic signature. and there is no turning back for him.

Georgy Mokhov, vice-president of the PCT and head of the law firm Persona Grata, believes that in this situation, businesses should be given more opportunities to adapt. “It is necessary to ensure the possibility of transmitting information among tourist groups, reduce the number of fields, allocate subsidies to reimburse connection costs, etc.,” Mokhov explained.

The PCT letter was sent to the ministry on May 2, but there is no response yet. The editors have requested comment from the press service of the Ministry of Economic Development.

Source: Tourdom

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