On December 15th the situation in the French Consulate improved, travel companies that specialize in the French market say. However, visa applications for bus tours were accepted only for tours with departure on 2nd and 3rd January. Dmitry Fomintsev, General Director of Tourtrans-Voyage, commented on this as follows: ‘if visas are issued in time the situation will not become critical’. Travel companies believe that if on December 18th the documents for tours starting on January 4th, 5th and 6th are accepted the problem can be considered resolved’. David Morton, Head of Maison de France, said in the interview to a BANKO correspondent that he is in contact with all tour operators that specialize in bus tours: ‘we control the situation and inform the Consulate about a number of passports from tour operators in order to issue visas in time’. According to the Press Service of the French Embassy, Consulate agents will work on December 26th that was previously announced a day off.
Apparently the involvement of authorities engendered the improvement of the situation in the Consulate. Thus, on December 14th Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gruskho, met Ambassador of France in the Russian Federation in order to discuss the difficulties that occur in the visa issuing process. The message from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that Stanislas de Laboulaye ‘assured that the French party will take action to normalize the current situation’. He also pointed out the readiness of the French Embassy in Moscow to meet with representatives of the leading tour operating companies to discuss the ways out of the crisis situation.
On December 18th the meeting of the French Ambassador with the head of Federal Tourism Agency will take place. Apparently tour operators will be invited.
Meanwhile, French partners of Russian tour operators did not react on the current situation in the Consulate. ‘After the crisis and riot in May there were protesting letters from the French companies, but no there is no reaction at all’, commented a representative of Evolucion Voyage. ‘Current problems are more local, the French market hardly knows about them. The situation with visas did not affect the business considerably, therefore, there was no reason for negative reaction or actions’, sated David Morton.
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