Cosmos Travel launched on April 7 package offers for vaccination against coronavirus for Russians living abroad. They will be able to come to Russia for a few days to be vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine. The package includes accommodation, transportation, and escort to the vaccination center; Clients pay for the flight to Moscow on their own.
This was reported to Vedomosti by a representative of the Cosmos Hotel Group.
The partner of Cosmos Travel will be Medsi Group of Companies (if desired, the client can apply to a free clinic, where he will also be accompanied by Cosmos Travel). Moscow private clinics received the opportunity to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 in December 2020. They receive the drug free of charge from the Moscow Department of Health, they administer the vaccine free of charge, but they have the right to charge a fee for complementary services, for example, for a consultation with a doctor before vaccination, therefore, for contacting in a private clinic, the client will have to pay extra.
The online platform for booking tours Cosmos Travel was launched at the end of 2020 as part of the Cosmos Hotel Group (part of AFK Sistema), which owns 17 hotels, and two more hotels are under its management. Cosmos Hotel Group’s revenue for 2020, according to its data, amounted to 2.5 billion rubles. Medsi is the largest network of private clinics in Russia (also part of AFK Sistema). It has 44 clinics in Moscow, the Moscow region and other regions of Russia. Medsi’s revenue in 2019 amounted to RUB 22 billion. (the company did not disclose revenue for 2020).
Cosmos Travel offers two tour package options. In the first case, we are talking about one trip to Russia with a stay in any city (Moscow is recommended – there are simply more flights here) within 21 days (in order to have time to be vaccinated with both components of the vaccine); this package costs 1,500 euros. The second involves two trips for a period of three days each with a total cost of 700 euros. Anyone who lives outside of Russia and has Russian citizenship can use the program.
“There is a lot of interest in Sputnik V vaccination on the part of Russian citizens living in other countries. We are often approached with such a request,” comments Andrey Sivitsky, CEO of Cosmos Travel.
According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs for 2020, 11 million Russians live abroad. “It is clear that not everyone will take advantage of this opportunity, but even if 0.5% of the total amount arrives, it will already be a very decent amount,” said Nikolay Bespalov, Development Director of RNC Pharma. According to Sivitsky, after the removal of coronavirus restrictions between the countries, the entry flow on antique tours may reach at least 50,000 people by the end of the year. At the same time, he notes that there is already interest in the Russian drug on the part of foreign citizens.
Viktor Markhotin, general director of the Finam tour operator, believes that such a tour may be of interest primarily to foreign citizens who want to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. He doubts the interest in such a tour package for Russians living abroad: “Russians who live outside of Russia [and so] can come at any time and get vaccinated free of charge under the compulsory medical insurance”. Finam, he said, has no plans to offer such a tour for Russians living abroad.
Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), believes that the antique tour can be of interest to both foreigners and Russians: “Judging by what the government said, the idea of antique tours to Russia is not bad, tour operators are also ready to support it.” , She says. But so far, operators cannot offer such tour packages in large quantities – the vaccine is not enough, Lomidze said.
It is also important to note that, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) as of April 1 of this year, Sputnik V is registered in 59 countries. In addition to Russia, these are Belarus, Argentina, Serbia, Venezuela, Mexico and others (the fund does not disclose data on the number of people vaccinated with the Russian drug abroad). The issue of registration does not always mean that the health care system and residents of a particular country get access to the drug, registration is only the first step, large-scale deliveries do not start at once, Bespalov explains. “The problem with the availability of vaccines in European countries is still very acute, the drug is not enough, there is a queue for its delivery almost until next year. At the same time, the Russian drug is presented in a very limited number of countries, – he continues. “In such conditions, there will be those who would like to take advantage of a visit to Russia, given that Sputnik V is one of the most effective and safest drugs. Although, in the future, vaccine tourism, which implies being vaccinated with Sputnik V, may well be organized not only to Russia, but also to other countries. “
The idea to come to Russia for vaccination came up with foreigners themselves. At the end of March, Deutsche Welle wrote that international travel agencies were already booking trips to Moscow for vaccinations. Two four-day visits to the Russian capital, including sightseeing and a Sputnik V vaccination, are offered by the Norwegian travel agency World Visitor. Prices for such a tour are 1200-3000 euros.