Travel online this week

While the European Commissionthe UK and the US moved to economically punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the online travel world was divided on how to approach the moment, or more precisely the gap was between Expedia Groupa few others maybe, and just about everyone.

[Update: Airbnb said Friday it was suspending operations in Russia and Belarus. And Tripadvisor CEO Steve Kaufer published an open letter Thursday on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying the company is canceling experiences booked on Viator or Tripadvisor in Russia and Belarus, won’t work with Russia-based tourism bodies, and will cancel attempts to booking vacation rentals in Russia and Belarus.]

contrary to Reserve credits, Google Travel, MakeMyTripand We will, Expedia Group has stopped offering travel to and from Russia. This goes for Expedia Vrbo vacation rental unit, as well.

“In response to recent acts and government sanctions against Russia, we have ceased selling travel to and from Russia,” Expedia Group said in a statement. “We are saddened by what continues to unfold in Ukraine and will continue to do what we can to support affected travellers, partners and our team members with their families and friends in affected areas.”

The company didn’t give details, but if you had tried to book a vacation package from New York to Moscow, Russia on on Tuesday, destinations Moscow, Idaho and Moscow, Pennsylvania would have come as far as possible.

Admittedly, the Russia-Ukraine zone does not generate a substantial share of bookings for Expedia Group, but its positioning has surprised some competitors.

The situation is fluid and some companies’ plans for travel to Russia may be in transition and not yet fully visible.

Germany-based tours and activities company GetYourGuide, which derives less than 1% of its business from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine as source or destination markets, has halted its marketing activities in the region. The company was making most of its attractions and activities unbookable in the region.

GetYourGuide, however, couldn’t – or simply didn’t – instantly block the booking lever. An introductory tour of the Kremlin and Armory was still available for March 8 on with the warning that it is “sure to sell out.”

At On Tuesday, you can still book Moscow-Cairo flights, as well as hotels in the region. CEO Glenn Fogel said last month that Russia and Ukraine as destinations have generated low-digit company revenue.

A google The spokesperson said Google Flights and Google Hotels, like services such as Search, Maps and YouTube, are currently available in Russia, although Google Pay may not be functional. In a Google blog post, Kent Walker, president of global affairs, said the company is committed to complying with all sanctions.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take further action if necessary – and we join the international community in expressing sincere hope for a return to a peaceful and sovereign Ukraine,” he wrote.

At Airbnb, which pledged this week to provide free short-term housing to up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, you can book short-term rentals in St. Petersburg, Russia, and experiences like “Fifty Shades of Moscow nightlife”. However, an “Explore the Kremlin” tour had no dates available.

A Tripadvisor The spokesperson said it was primarily an information platform, not an official merchant, so it could not restrict which advertisers offered trips to Russia and where. where people book.

Anti-war activists in Russia, shut out of government-controlled media, wrote reviews on Tripadvisor in hopes of educating the public about the war and stirring up opposition to Putin, sparking Tripadvisor’s efforts to block these posts because they are not reviews of the hotel or restaurant in question.

One such post on Tripadvisor, written by a user, read: “Your President invaded Ukraine waging war on its people. This is not a peacekeeping mission. As Russian citizens, you can hold your president to account.

Some social media users have accused Tripadvisor of siding with Putin.

In response, Tripadvisor said it was expanding its community forums “to allow Ukrainians and other travelers to share information about what’s happening in the region after (and during) the Russian invasion.”

Tripadvisor also said the Tripadvisor Foundation will match consumer donations of up to $250,000 for Central cuisine of the world efforts to feed Ukrainian families inside the country, as well as refugees.

Tuesday, Tripadvisor’s brand of tours and activities Viator was still available for a Kremlin tour on March 16 with early admission. Incredibly, a March 30 urban adventure and history tour of Kiev, Ukraine, which faces Russian missiles and tanks, still seemed to be available on Viator.

“We’re working on it in real time,” a Viator spokeswoman said. “At the moment we are working on cancellations of short-term reservations in Russia. Of course, we also act quickly to monitor and ensure compliance with all sanctions. We are aligned with Tripadvisor and are working closely with them on our next steps.

Whenever it comes to boycotting travel on pariah regimes like Putin’s, there is always the debate about whether strong action to deter crimes against humanity is needed, or whether innocent people, like an Airbnb host or a Viator tour guide in Russia, would bear the brunt of it. the hardship. Many Russians, some with ties to Ukraine, including relatives or friends living there, oppose the war.

“Blocking the sale of flights to Russia might give us the impression of solidarity with Kyiv, but I think it would only embarrass people who are generally opposed to the actions of the Kremlin and are part of the solution that will bring to term a more moderate government in power in Russia,” said Ross Veitch, CEO of We will, with offices in Singapore and Dubai.

Wego only receives 1-2% of its bookings for trips to Ukraine or Russia, mostly from expats who work and live in Gulf countries in the Middle East.

Responding to a question about its operation during the crisis, a spokesperson for the metasearcher Aviasales, which has an office in Russia but is headquartered in Thailand, said: “We operate in 14 different markets across Eastern Europe and Central Asia and right now our focus is on security and supporting our staff in Russia and Ukraine, while ensuring our travelers get the most up-to-date travel information. »

Russian travelers will certainly feel the pressure of being barred from flights to Europe, but since the Covid outbreak the vast majority of their trips have been domestic.

Popular destinations for Russian travelers, including Turkey, Egypt and Mexico, are still available as these destinations have not joined the United States, Canada, European Union and United Kingdom in efforts of penalties.

Cash-strapped Russian travelers and the plethora of online travel agencies that insist on continuing to do business in Russia will, however, have to deal with a ruble of their own free will after Western companies began cutting off Russia. of the global financial system.

To note: This story has been updated to include new information about Tripadvisor and Airbnb’s responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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