Why is the introduction of official non-refundable rates in Russian hotels being postponed?

The Codification Council under the President of the Russian Federation did not support the amendment to the Civil Code on non-refundable hotel rates developed by the Ministry of Economic Development, Vedomosti newspaper reported. Georgy Mokhov, Vice-President of the Russian Union of Tourism Industry (PCT), head of the PCT Legal Committee, believes that in order to introduce tariffs, appropriate changes can be made to the “Rules for the provision of Hotel Services” and to the law “On the Basics of Tourism Activities in the Russian Federation”.

The bill was developed by the Ministry of Economic Development and submitted for discussion in April this year. It involves an amendment to Part 2 of Article 782 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation (unilateral refusal to perform a contract for the provision of paid services), which is supplemented by the provision “unless otherwise established by law”, which, according to the Ministry of Economic Development, will make it possible to introduce provisions in the “Rules for the provision of hotel services” allowing the use of non-refundable tariffs in hotels.

PCT experts have repeatedly come out in support of the bill. The head of the PCT Committee on Hotel activities, Victoria Shamlikashvili, believes that the legalization of non-refundable tariffs is necessary, since in fact they already exist. And the fact that they are not legally fixed in any way gives scope to the imagination of both hoteliers and consumers, leading to distortions of the essence of such tariffs.

However, in The Codification Council under the President of the Russian Federation considered that the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Economic Development transfer the business risks of the contractor to the customer. In addition, as follows from the conclusion of the Council, now charging for the actual idle room is limited to the cost of the first night’s stay, which means that other regulation, in which the fee is calculated not depending on the contractor’s expenses, is in fact already allowed at the level of a by-law. Therefore, amendments to Article 782 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation are not required.

As Georgy Mokhov recalled, the possibility of introducing non-refundable rates in hotels has been discussed for quite a long time. At first, Rostourism proposed this, in particular, in a new industry law that was being developed in 2021. After the abolition of Rostourism, the initiative was supported by the Ministry of Economic Development, and in early 2024, the concept of a non-refundable tariff was included in the roadmap for the transformation of the business climate in Russian tourism until 2025.

“The process was delayed for a reason. The problem is that the introduction of non—refundable tariffs affects not only the law “On the basics of tourism activity”, but also general laws “On Consumer Protection” and The Civil Code. And from the point of view of legal mechanisms, it is not easy to do this, since this is not only the tourism sector anymore,” he explained.

“On the other hand, the de facto non-refundable tariff does exist, it is applied both in hotels and aggregators, but it is not fixed by law. And, perhaps, if the bill is stalling at the level of expertise, it makes sense to take a different path without affecting such fundamental norms as the Civil Code. For example, make changes to “Rules for the provision of hotel services“. There is already a norm that allows you to charge the cost of the first day in case of cancellation of the reservation. You can increase this period, for example, calculate it in proportion to the period of residence. Or to detail the conditions of booking accommodation at the hotel. That is, to make a change to “The rules for the provision of hotel services” and, accordingly, in the industry law,” the expert added.

The non-refundable rate assumes that the tourist will not be able to cancel the booked hotel room without penalty. The PCT believes that the introduction of such tariffs will allow consumers to save 20-30% when buying hotel accommodation.

 

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