The twenty-year old travel agency, founded by Ludmila Puchkova had a high reputation amongst Russians who were shocked by the sudden collapse of the firm. The company announced the suspension of its activities because of financial problems which surfaced Friday when 100 Lanta Tour clients, expecting to leave Moscow on holiday, were refused boarding on flights from Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo. The agency had won many industry awards and was the agent in Russia of Walt Disney Resorts and Disneyland Paris.
Most of the stranded holidaymakers are in Thailand, the Dominican Republic and the Middle East. Some 1,500 of the hapless tourists are in Thailand, where the Deputy Head of the Russian Tourism Agency (Rostourizm), Grigoriy Sarishvili is attempting to aid them
Experts are suggesting Lana Tour failed because it didn’t revolve its credit line at a number of Moscow banks. Some are surprised the company failed so dramatically. “In the tourism industry payments are usually made during the season or at the end of it”, Vladimir Kaganer, CEO of TezTour, told RBC Daily. “It’s unlikely that all the creditors demanded payment at the same time”.
The Russian package tour business has been suffering, with several companies closing in recent years. Tough competition and over supply have forced many companies to cut prices and sell packages at a loss. At the end of 2010 Capital Tour went bankrupt leaving 8,000 in the lurch.
Unlike Europe, where tour operators must provide a bond to repatriate and reimburse clients should the company go bankrupt, there is no such proviso in Russia. Tourists who are affected have to make their own provision for returning home at sometimes considerable cost.
At the time she founded the company in 1991 Ludmila’s husband was a serving army officer. When he left the army he joined her in the management of the firm.