In Rostov-on-Don, they offer to get to Istanbul by bus

В Ростове-на-Дону предлагают добираться в Стамбул на автобусе

Cities in southern Russia with airports closed due to their own problems solve limited transport accessibility in different ways: Krasnodar, for example, does not give up trying to open an airport, and Rostov-on-Don offers a bus route to Istanbul.

Turkish carrier Luks Yilmaz has been operating in the cities of the Southern and North Caucasus Federal Districts for a long time, sending a maximum of one flight per week, and here for the first time submitted an application to the Ministry of Transport for three regular bus flights per week from Rostov-on-Don to Istanbul from March 1. The travel time is about two days – 40 hours, including technological stops every 4 hours and border crossing. The fare is about 10 thousand rubles. By the way, the management of the Rostov-on-Don Central Bus Station promised in the autumn to connect the Don capital with Armenia, Georgia and Turkey. Since the Luks Yilmaz bus goes to Istanbul via Georgia, Rostov residents have to wait for the bus to Yerevan.

The organized travel business is sure that the route will not pay for itself, as it will be interesting only to shuttles, and it will be easier for tourists to get to Mineralnye Vody to fly to Istanbul. We’ll see who’s right in March.

If in Rostov-on-Don they replace air transportation with bus routes, then import substitution has begun in domestic airlines – Red Wings has put a restored Tu–214 aircraft on the Moscow-Sochi route. In 2018, Red Wings discontinued the operation of Tu-204/214 aircraft due to their low economic efficiency compared to the Airbus 321 (the aircraft consumes almost 1 ton more kerosene per hour of flight than the Airbus 321, and weighs about 15 tons more, which leads to additional airport charges).

On February 2, the restored Tu‑214 flew from Zhukovsky Airport to Sochi, and this week it will begin flying from Domodedovo to Yerevan, Batumi and Tel Aviv. This year, Red Wings expects to receive another restored Tu-204 aircraft.

Aeroflot does not have airliners ready for restoration, but the national carrier has agreed with the UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) on the layout of the cabins of the first five new Tu-214, which the aircraft manufacturers promise to deliver by the end of this year. Each chair will have USB ports and sockets, but they promise to equip the backs of the chairs with multimedia screens no earlier than 2026. There will be no Internet access on board.

In addition to strategic news, the media last week told about unpleasant news for Aeroflot – the Verkhny Isetsky district Court of Yekaterinburg ordered the national carrier to take the Bykov spouses to Phuket and return them to their homeland. This is the first court decision on the incident of cancelled tickets to Thailand sold in October last year at erroneous fares. AN-Tourism has repeatedly written about this incident.

In total, more than three thousand travel documents were issued from Yekaterinburg to Phuket, for example, the aforementioned Bykov couple bought tickets for March 14, 2024. The airline’s lawyers have, as expected, appealed the court’s decision, so the trial will most likely not have time to end before March 14. We will keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, the state wants to help existing airports better survive the sanctions imposed on the aviation industry – the State Duma plans to allow the sale of alcohol in duty-free shops in domestic departure zones. Deputies will consider the government’s draft in March 2024.

After the sensational death of Twix’s cat, the Federal Passenger Company (FPC) announced a new procedure for the conductors who found animals without owners on the train. It is claimed that the employees of the train crew, in case of finding a stray animal on the train, “will take all necessary measures to find the owner.” If the owner could not be found, the animal will be taken to the nearest station, where it will be handed over to the station staff on duty, and those to animal rights activists.

A few days of trash

Last week, the federal media spread the news, which made travelers from Yekaterinburg pretty nervous. So, judging by the information disseminated, at the Yekaterinburg Koltsovo International airport, the border guard did not let a tourist who bought a tour to Turkey board, since she, who was born in the 1980s, had “Yekaterinburg” in the “place of birth” column, and, as is known, until 1991 the Ural capital was called Sverdlovsk. The tourist tried to protest the decision, saying that she had been traveling abroad using this passport for more than five years. In addition, Yekaterinburg is also indicated as her place of birth in her civil passport. The result is the seizure of both documents and a fine of 3 thousand rubles. Due to the decision of the border guard, the mother and daughter of the victim did not fly abroad – a family tour to Turkey worth about half a million rubles was lost.

This story immediately seemed suspicious to us, especially since the media referred to one of the anonymous Telegram channels, but we did not find the original news there. Nothing was found in the local media either. Meanwhile, Yekaterinburg residents who are going abroad in the near future have tensed up – many of them have such passports with Yekaterinburg instead of Sverdlovsk. The situation had to be explained to the border guard service. The FSB confirmed that since December 11, the law has been changed, which determines the invalidity of foreign passports. The list of reasons also includes “the presence of false information or signs of unsuitability in the passport.” They, in turn, are determined by a special government decree. However, the department did not confirm the described incident at the airport, stressing that due to Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk, Russian citizens cannot have problems.

The specialized publication Turdom found out through its channels that the events did not develop as described in the initial messages. The tourist really lost her passport, but not for the above reasons, but because of the incorrect spelling of the city. In the column “place of birth” it was indicated “Ekaterinburg”.

Tourist flow records

We have received statistics on visits from several countries in which Russians have become leaders in the tourist flow.

7.1 million international non-resident travelers visited Georgia in 2023. In the first place in terms of number are visitors from Russia – 23%, or 2 million people. Visitors from Turkey are in second place – 21%, and citizens from Armenia are in third place – 14%. On average, the expense of each person entering the country for a visit amounted to GEL 2,100 (about 70 thousand rubles).

56.7 million people came to Turkey in 2023, 10% more than in 2022. Russia is in the lead in terms of tourist flow – 6.3 million tourists. Germany is catching up – 6.2 million. The United Kingdom is in third place – 3.8 million. The plan for 2024 is 60 million vacationers.

Russia took the first place in terms of tourist flow to the Maldives in January. During the month, more than 18.5 thousand Russians visited the republic. This is followed by Italy (18 thousand) and China (16.5 thousand). Interestingly, India, which was the leader in tourist traffic in 2023, dropped to 5th place. And the thing is that in early January, several Maldivian high-ranking officials were rude to the Prime Minister of India on social networks. They didn’t like that he compared the Lakshadweep Archipelago to the Maldives. In response, the Indians began to boycott the republic and refuse to rest there.

Visa News

The US State Department has published statistics on refusals to issue nonimmigrant visas of categories B1/B2 for 2023. According to statistics, almost 40% of applications from Russians were refused. This number is significantly higher than in previous years. For comparison, in 2022 the figure was 26%, in 2021 it was 29%, and in 2020 the figure was 18%.

Iran has cancelled visas for 28 countries since February 4, but Russia is not on this list. There were 33 countries in total in the initial plan published in December. In addition to Russia, Venezuela, Lebanon, Malaysia and Tajikistan have disappeared from the list.

The Georgian authorities have decided on the amount of insurance coverage for the medical insurance policy that will be required to enter the country from June 1 – 30 thousand euros/dollars. Recall that the fine for the absence of a policy is 300 Georgian lari (about 10 thousand rubles).

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