The reservation came out with cashback // Extra objects were found in the tourist state program

The implementation of the third stage of the tourist cashback program raised business questions. Through the “Support of Russia” hoteliers are trying to convince Rostourism to strengthen control over the online aggregators participating in the program. Now, independent booking systems offer tourists to book with a cashback vacation in unclassified objects, guest houses and apartments that cannot participate in the program. It is possible to deceive the system, but the reputational risks are high.

The experts of Opora Rossii have identified on online aggregators cases of providing information on participation in the tourist cashback program of accommodation facilities, information about which is not in the federal list of tourist sites and on the mirtravel.ru portal. This is stated in a letter to the head of Rostourism Zarina Doguzova, a copy of the appeal is in the “b”. Aleksey Kozhevnikov, Vice President of Opora Rossii, explains that according to the terms of the action, only classified accommodation facilities participate in it, and information about them must be available in the federal register. Rosturizm did not promptly answer Kommersant’s questions.

From March 18 to June 15, the third stage of the tourist cashback campaign is being implemented in Russia, within the framework of which tourists, when paying with a Mir card, can return 20% of the cost of their vacation in Russia, but not more than 20 thousand rubles. 2 billion rubles were allocated for the third stage.

Opora Rossii gives three examples when aggregators (Travelata.ru and Ostrovok.ru) published information about guest houses or apartments as participating in the cashback program, despite the fact that these accommodation facilities were not classified. Maxim Kainer, Travelata.ru Product Director, explained to Kommersant that a mistake was made with the hotel labeling from the Opora Rossii circulation, which the service had already eliminated at the first request of the Federal Tourism Agency. Ostrovok.ru also reported on the correction of information and tightening control over other objects.

As explained in Ostrovok.ru, the system receives information about the classification of the accommodation facility from the object itself, the service checks the correctness of the data, but this is not always possible to do quickly.

“Hotels cheated and provided false information, we will deal with them, under the agreement there is a clause on liability for incorrect data,” explained Ostrovok.ru. Member of the Board of the League of Hostels Natalya Petrovskaya notes that according to the law on consumer protection, the owners of aggregators must communicate to the client information about the service provider, including his basic registration data. But for the most part, they don’t, the expert is sure. Rospotrebnadzor also says that the consumer should be provided with information about the type of hotel assigned to the hotel category in order to make the right choice.

How Russians will be paid extra for the rest

The possibility of receiving a cashback for booking a room in a hotel that could not participate in the Rostourism program cannot be ruled out. The interlocutor of Kommersant in the tourist market explains that the money is transferred to the client after the Mir payment system fixes the transaction, in which only its amount is visible. And the counterparty in this case is the legal entity of the aggregator, the official partner of the program. Subsequently, according to a Kommersant source, tour operators and booking systems provide Rosturizm and Mir with a detailed report on all sold tours with cashback. “There, in manual mode, violations can be detected, which are pointed out to us,” he says.

As an example, a Kommersant source cites several dozen transactions from one Mir card, then Rosturizm suspects that these reservations are a commercial activity of an agent, which is prohibited under the terms of the program.

“We contact such people, but usually they swear that all these tours were booked for their family members, and nothing can be done about it,” the source told Kommersant. He does not exclude that unscrupulous aggregators may hide information about bookings with cashback of unclassified accommodation facilities in their reports, replacing them with other objects. Kommersant’s source also doubts that the practice is very common among large platforms – “reputational risks and further sanctions for business can be very serious.” In the worst case, a tourist will lose cashback, he said.

Nevertheless, this practice could stimulate additional demand for placement. The general director of the tour operator “Dolphin” Sergei Romashkin notes that hotels with cashback, in general, were booked more actively than others. Opor Rossii says that the assignment of the status of a shareholder to placement facilities that do not meet this requirement leads to unfair competition in the market. According to Alexey Kozhevnikov, special requirements are imposed on classified accommodation facilities and tour operators for participation in the program, but not on aggregators. He sees the solution to the problem in giving online platforms additional control obligations.

Alexandra Mertsalova, Anatoly Kostyrev

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