Russian tour operators to visit tourism destinations near State capital

Heralding another tourism season and raising hopes of a fair arrival of tourists to God’s Own Country, chartered flight operations from Russia commenced on Sunday with a flight from Moscow touching down at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

The chartered flight that arrived via Goa landed at 2 p.m. It had 32 tour operators from Russia aboard. The Russian tourists who were on the flight had disembarked at Goa. Later, the tour operators left for the beach resort of Kovalam where they will be put up. The tour operators are here to visit the tourism destinations in and around the State capital and to popularise the destination in Russia on their return after the 10-day familiarisation tour.

A flight from Ekaterinburg, the fourth largest city in Russia, with 185 tourists will touch down at the airport at 9.45 a.m. on Monday. The flight will also arrive via Goa.

Chartered flights from Ekaterinburg will arrive every week till May 18 and those from Moscow till May 26. Tourists from Ekaterinburg will spend a minimum of 13 nights at Kovalam and those from Moscow 10 nights.

Since 2009, no chartered flights have touched down at the State capital, mainly owing to poor response from foreign tourists. Kovalam’s potential was badly hit by the lack of chartered flight operations.

The arrival of the chartered flight after three years has cheered up the travel trade at the beach resort as 450 rooms in the upmarket and budget hotels have been booked.

The chartered tourists are being flown in by the Russia-based Pegas Touristik and the direct flights will be operated by Orenair (Orenburg Airlines) and Nordwind Airlines. SITA-Kuoni Destination Managers are the local handlers of the chartered tourists.

“The response to the first five flights is good and we hope that the tourist inflow from Russia will pick up for other flights”, a tour operator associated with the chartered flights said.

Though Kerala is touted as a 365-day destination, the arrival of chartered flights from Gatwick in the U.K. used to signal the start of the four-month peak season commencing in November. It is for the first time that chartered flights from Russia are arriving to kick off a tourism season in the State.