Profit + Travel
by: Anna Scherbina
If the summer is “cancelled,” bankruptcies cannot be avoided.
April 20, 2020
The Union of Organizers of Children’s Active Tourism (SODAT) together with other specialized organizations is preparing an appeal to the Prime Minister with a request to support children’s camps, many of which have not been subject to the measures already taken. Representatives of SODAT have reported the nature of the challenges.
According to PCT Vice-President Olga Sanayeva, summer tickets/registrations are typically sold out during winter, and in February – March there are no places left in most camps. Although this year there was not 100 percent registration, not everyone understood the seriousness of the situation at the time and, in February, many still hoped that the children would be able to attend camp in the summer. Now camps need to return money that is currently invested. “A lot of [this money is spent], there are state orders, paid transportation … It is difficult to predict what the consequences will be. With deposits, too, it is unclear whether the season will take place, whether the first shift (session) will be canceled, whether there will be movement of sessions when the school year will eventually begin…” – Sanayeva.
According to the chairman of the SODAT council, Marina Gritsun, the most difficult in the tourism sector are children’s camps, especially non-state camps, which, according to the registers of the Ministry of Education for 2019, we have more than 700. “If the season does not proceed completely or does not take place at all, (a quite real possibility in a number of regions) many children’s camps, if there is no support of the state, will be lost. The non-governmental sector, which is a model of advanced technologies and modern methods of working with children, will be particularly affected. But such camps are especially in demand by the general segments of the middle-income population, who do not fall under the benefits and provide free vouchers,” – Gritsun
In order to preserve children’s camps, according to experts, we need the joint work of the state, tourism professionals, the parent community and certain measures of support:
- Subsidies for refunds to tourists on already paid bookings;
- Partial subsidization of listed camps that do not spend the season;
- Preferential lending, with a delay of at least a year (since the season is likely to start for many only in 2021);
- Tax breaks, in particular, on property, as camps, especially stationary, have a need to pay taxes on land and buildings, and this is a high cost;
- Preferential tariffing or lower prices for electricity, gas, other utility bills. “The camp sites will be idle for a year, but they need to be guarded, maintained, repaired and maintained in good condition,” – Gritsun
- Subsidies and interest-free pay credits to keep workers. “Teams gather for years, they are trained professionals who know how and want to work with children who are willing to take on both the heavy workload and the huge responsibility associated with this important but low-paid work. Losing these enthusiasts will be critical” – Gritsun
At the same time, according to Marina Gritsun, some loans for salaries will not solve anything: “In order to beat off such loans, even if interest-free, you need a constant influx of revenue, and children’s camps receive funds mainly due to the summer season. If this year’s summer campaign is cancelled, the next revenue in the necessary work and survival will be only from February 2021. Autumn and winter holidays used to give the flow of tourists an order of magnitude less than in the summer. In addition, the income of the population is falling and many families are likely to send their children to rest at camps only once a year in the summer.”
The decision to lift the quarantine and, accordingly, to conduct summer health campaigns, has been given to the regional authorities. At the same time, the situation with COVID-19 develops differently in each region. Even if the camps are opened in some regions, it is not possible to come there from other regions, everything depends on the epidemiological situation in the country as a whole. Perhaps, the regions will need to follow the example from Crimea, where children’s camps will be loaded with local residents at the expense of budget money, but here we are talking, first of all, about state organizations. Private camps, if they operate, will operate at a loss.
The state’s support is also needed to reassure tourists. “Parents now, of course, dream of letting their children rest, but at the same time they are not ready to make new bookings, because they are afraid that not all children’s camps will survive this difficult time without losses.” – Gritsun