“The biggest impact I’ve seen is on people who have booked a cruise and don’t want their money going to Russia,” said Victoria Hardison-Sterry, a Florida-based travel consultant at Lakeshore Travel, who made pass a guest on a Baltic cruise. in 2023 on a cruise to Alaska. “My clients have been upfront about not contributing to the Russian economy.”
Others worry about traveling to nearby areas that could be flooded with war refugees, and where the presence of tourists would be a drag.
Russo-Ukrainian war: what you need to know
In about six weeks, Mr Spencer is set to take a group on an AmaWaterways cruise through southeastern Europe, including passing through Romania and ending in Budapest. “Customers were initially reassured that the road was 1,200 to 1,500 kilometers from the Russian-Ukrainian border, but this changed as towns far inland were targeted by Russia,” he said, noting that Budapest is just hours from Ukraine. For now, the journey is underway, although Mr Spencer is following the news closely. “We travel to support local economies and interact with cultures, but if they face an exodus from Ukraine, we don’t want to be a burden.”
Ensemble Travel Group, a consortium of travel advisers, is taking around 150 of its agents on a river cruise to Europe in April. The travelers plan to pack blankets and hygiene kits to donate to a non-profit organization helping refugees during their stay in Budapest with the aim of doing “something meaningful to help those affected by this horrible situation,” said Todd Hutzulak, executive director of marketing for Ensemble, whose grandfather is from Kyiv.
Perhaps no sector of the travel industry has been more affected than tour operators who had scheduled trips to Russia and, to a lesser extent, to its neighbours.
Companies such as smarTours, Kensington Tours and G Adventures have canceled upcoming trips there. Smithsonian Journeys canceled or rerouted all 2022 trips that visited Russia and said cancellations in Europe were less than 1% since the start of the war. Ride and Seek, a cycle touring agency, plans to continue its Paris-St Petersburg circuit, adjusted to ride to the Russian border, then retire to Tallinn, Estonia, for the final evening.
“Traditionally, Russia is an emerging market for us that is growing,” said Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures, which has canceled a dozen tours in the country, including its popular Trans-Siberian train trips.