At noon on February 1, when performing exit formalities at HCM City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Russian student Shumilov Ivan expressed his sadness because he had to leave Vietnam early, owing to Lanta Tur Voyage’s bankruptcy.
Ivan and his friends experienced a good time in Binh Thuan, with satisfactory services. However, several days ago, Ivan watched TV at a resort in Phan Thiet and knew that Lanta Tur Voyage, which had sold the Vietnam tour to him, went bankrupt and abandoned its tourists. Ivan had paid this firm around $1,100 for his tour to Vietnam, including a round air ticket and hotel services.
“Lanta Viet has not notified us about this incident. Earlier, we were assisted by tour guides but since the incident occurred, we have not been able to contact with Lanta’s representatives,” Ivan said.
Ivan and his friends were sad to leave Vietnam early but they were ready for any circumstance.
“I wish to stay longer in Vietnam, until February 4 as my schedule, but if I stay here I will have to pay hotel charges. I do not have enough money so I have to return home early,” he said.
To come back home on a flight of Transaero, Ivan had to pay for one night at a hotel in Binh Thuan and transport fees from Binh Thuan to Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCM City.
“I hope that when I return to Moscow, Lanta’s case will be solved. Anyway, I have had a memorable trip in beautiful Vietnam,” he added.
The noon flight on February 1, brought Ivan and some Russian tourists back to Russia. It was the second flight by Transaero for Russian who were clients of Lanta Tur Voyage in Vietnam.
On January 31, ten Russian visitors were also transported back home on another flight of this carrier. In the upcoming days, this airline will continue this task.
Le Van Nghia, chief representative of Transaero in Vietnam, said that the carrier assists Russian tourists because this is the chance to show off a friendly Vietnam.
Nghia said he has worked for 20 years in the tourism industry but this is the first time he sees such an incident. “Lanta is the first Russian firm that brought Russian tourists to Vietnam, with the highest number so far. There were flights of us with half of the passengers being Lanta’s tourists,” he added.
Nghia said that most Russian tourists did not want to leave Vietnam early. Those who can afford to pay accepted to spend more money to stay in Vietnam as their schedules.
Representatives of the Russian Embassy in Hanoi said that after Lanta Tur Voyage went bankrupt, tourist firms and hotels in Mui Ne (Binh Thuan) keep serving Russian tourists normally. They do not hinder tourists from leaving, not hold tourists’ passports or claim they pay accommodation fees.
The Embassy negotiated with some airlines, including Vietnam Airlines, Aeroflot, S7 and Transaero, to bring Russian tourists back home before February 10.
“Russian relevant agencies have begun to investigate Lanta Tur Voyage. In general, this case is the dispute between Lanta Viet with Vietnamese tourist companies,” said Bakeeva Ekaterina, the first Secretary of the Russian Embassy.
Lanta Tur Voyage, the parent company of Lanta Viet, is the leading and age-old travel firm in Russia, with thousands of agents in many countries around the world. On January 27, this company suddenly stated to go bankrupt. Thousands of Russian tourists who bought this company’s tours are stuck in many countries, including 309 who travel Phan Thiet of Vietnam. By February 1, around 184 Russian visitors were still stuck in Binh Thuan.
In Vietnam, Lanta Viet owes resorts in Mui Ne around VND10 billion ($500,000). On February 1, Konstantin, General Director of Lanta Viet met with officials of the Binh Thuan Tourism Association, the representative of resorts and hotels in Binh Thuan.
According to Lanta Tur Voyage, this company made a deposit of around $3.5 million of travel insurance premium to Ingosstrakh to pay for its tourists in case of problem. The deadline for payment is May 31. However, resorts in Mui Ne are very worried about the payment ability of this firm. They said that Lanta Tur’s deposit is not enough to cover expenditures for all 8,000 Russian tourists who are stuck in many countries like Thailand, India, Vietnam,etc.
Nguyen Tri Thoai, deputy managing director of Hoang Ngoc Resort in Mui Ne, said that Lanta Viet has cooperated with his resort for three years. The last contract was signed in November 2011. Lanta Viet currently owes his resort around $100,000.
“The contract’s deadline is March 2012 but at this moment, we only need to verify Lanta Viet’s debt,” he said worriedly.
Most of resorts and hotels, which are partners of Lanta Tur, said that the role of Lanta Viet is very dim becase this subsidiary is out of financial ability. It completely depends on the parent firm in Russia in solving risks.
In latest news, the Russian government has requested its credit institutions to provide Russian company Lanta Tur Voyage with sufficient capital to continue its operations. Russia has also asked its banks and Lanta to reckon up the public debts in countries that Russian tourists came to, Nguyen Thanh Tam, Vice Chairman of the Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee said at a working session between Binh Thuan authorities, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the Russian Consulate General, and the CEO of Lanta Viet Travel on February 1.
The Russian Consulate General affirmed that Lanta Tur Voyage has resumed its normal operations and already sent its announcement to its branch offices across the globe.
The Representative of the Russian Consulate General said that the Russian side highly appreciates the effective assistance of the Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, and local hotels and resorts in helping Russian tourists stranded in Vietnam.
According to the Russian Consulate General, the Russian tourists stranded in the Lanta incident expressed their good impressions of Vietnam and its hospitality. Some who can pay more money have decided to stay longer in Vietnam.