The Chinese authorities have prohibited the travel of organized groups outside the country; even earlier, the sale of package tours was completely stopped. Will the Russian travel industry be able to replace Chinese tourists with representatives of other countries or Russians quickly?
Just a couple of years ago, representatives of the regional communities of the Angara region sounded the alarm that Chinese expansion was beginning to threaten Russian business on Lake Baikal, they collected signatures and appealed to Russian senators. However, the practice of illegal organization by the Chinese diaspora of hotels in Listvyanka (the most popular place on the lake), associated with the massive purchase of land, at this time can be suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic.
If a number of travel companies, specializing in Chinese inbound tourism, have to go through the difficulties, considering force majeure circumstances with stoic heroism, then the others, canceling their reservations, could lead to the potential bankruptcy. Many still remember how some time ago the "winter" tourist season on Lake Baikal was much inferior in volume to the "summer" season. This situation may happen again this year, if the vaccine against the virus is not introduced, and the prohibition on group visits is not lifted by the beginning of spring (for the moment, such measures are introduced before 01.03.2020).
Experts believe that the diversification of business, reorientation to tourists from other countries, as well as to the compatriots, could be the most optimal step for Russian travel agencies that previously hosted Chinese tourists on the Lake Baikal. Can the travel agencies quickly get off the “Chinese needle”, attracting European citizens to the beauties of the deepest lake? Experts agree that this will require infrastructure investments, new technologies and marketing solutions. Most companies, operating on the market of the Irkutsk region today, simply do not have such opportunities. They can only hope that the epidemic will decline and they will be able to compensate for the winter “failure” by activating the tourist flow in the summer season.
Experts from Moscow predict a possible loss of $ 100 million from the coronavirus epidemic. This will happen, if the February epidemic does not decline, and the prohibition on group visits is not lifted. Despite the severity of the situation, some experts see the benefits of the measures taken. After all, they can hurt and hit the illegal, "gray" business, organized in the territory of the Irkutsk region by the Chinese themselves. Considering that such semi-legal visits can become significantly less, it will be possible to carry out sales promotion activities among Russian citizens. For example, the event “For love to Lake Baikal”, proposed by the regional tourism agency on the eve of the holiday of lovers (February 14), may prompt Russians to meet with Lake Baikal at lower prices than usual.