Pavlo Hrygorash, the General Director of the Ukrainian Association of Tourist Agencies, told LDaily about the realities of the Ukrainian market of tourist services, their compliance with European norms and common sensе, disadvantages and prospects.
LDaily: Tell us about UATA, please. Can all the tourist agencies become a member of UATA?
- Hrygorash: UATA (The Ukrainian Association of Travel Agencies) – the association of independent tourist networks and strong travel agencies of Ukraine defending common interests. Currently, the Association has 6 independent networks and 26 travel agencies. In total about 750 sales outlets. Our goal is to civilize the tourism market in Ukraine.
We are open to anyone who meets the following simple conditions:
- Follow through on the goals of the Association, the main of which is to civilize tourism market (transparency, official pay, etc.)
- To be a travel agent or an independent network of the travel agencies in Ukraine. Head Office of the network affiliated with the tour operator because of a potential conflict of interests can not be a member of the Association.
LDaily: How many are there Associations of travel agencies in Ukraine? What are the relations between them?
- Hrygorash: There are a number of Associations in Ukraine. Generally, the division is based on tourism (business, medical, environmental, internal). We are the only Association for travel agencies, the main business of which is based on the outbound tourism. The share of sales of our participants for 95 +% is the sale of tours to the foreign countries, including mass tours (Turkey / Egypt). Communication is very occasional with the other Associations.
LDaily: What is the specificity of the tourism business in our country? What is the difference in doing business with other countries?
- Hrygorash: In comparison with Europe, we are striving forward to, tourism is clearly regulated there, in particular from June 2018, the new EU Directive N2015 / 2302 came into force. The focus is on the tourist protection. Unfortunately, the main law regulating the tourism sector has been morally obsolete and requires urgent change in Ukraine. In fact, the tourist is not protected, as we can see on the examples of the Idriski-tour last year or Oasis and Natalie tours this year.
LDaily: What are the main problems in the travel industry?
- Hrygorash: I will not pay attention on the problems of domestic and inbound tourism, in which there are a lot of them, I will tell about 3 main problems at the market of outbound tourism:
The tourism legislation is at variance with the modern realities. As I mentioned above, the tourist and travel agent are not protected from the illegal actions of tour operators.
In fact, 90% of the tourist flow of the most massive outbound tourism is controlled by 8 companies, while there are more than 10 thousand travel agents. Naturally, there is a temptation to hog the blanket. Part of the duties of the tour operator (according to the law) is transferred to the travel agent. Do not want to – do not sign it.
It is illegal business. Since the threshold for entry into the industry is very low, there are a lot of non-professionals at the market which can not estimate their clients. In return, they attract their clients exclusively by the discounts.
LDaily: What is lack of legislation in Ukraine? What are the reasons for stopping development?
- Hrygorash: Our proposals are simple and transparent. They follow the changes in EU concerning the implementation of Directive N2015 / 2302.
- a) development of a working mechanism for the financial support of the responsibility of the tour operator in sufficient volumes, compensation for all victims in a case if the tour operator will stop its activity
- b) legal tourism market, including officially declared salary ;
- c) more responsibility for the non-settlement of tourists;
- d) creating a register of all market participants.
We actively cooperate both with the Core-business Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and with the Head of the Tourism Subcommittee in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to amend the law.
LDaily: Please, name the main industry indicators. What is the dynamics of the indicators for the last years?
- Hrygorash: In 2017, the market returned to the level of 2013 after a significant drop, which was observed in 2014. This year we are registering steady growth. According to the information from the Ministry of Infrastructure, in the first half of 2018, the volume of air transportation grew up to 26% (!) compared to the corresponding period of 2017. For many of our participants, the growth figures are even more impressive and amount to + 30-40% in comparison with the last year.
The problems with the flight program we all experienced in the summer season are primarily related to the lack of air transport to meet the need for charter transportation.
LDaily: How long have you been working in the Association? Have you taken always this position?
- Hrygorash: I came to UATA and took the position of the Executive Director at the end of May 2017. Before I had experience in marketing and sales in the tour operator companies, so I have a diverse idea of the outbound tourism market.