Free tours: who benefits from sponsoring Russian tourist trips
Finnish hypermarkets offer Russian tourists a free day trip from St. Petersburg to Lappeenranta. The condition is one: spend at least 50 euros in a local supermarket. There are also so-called “per kilogram” tours, when fellow travelers are taken to bring additional goods to Russia duty-free.
Almost for nothing, for 1 euro, you can go to Greece, but there you have to buy a fur coat. In Russia, they carry free of charge to the so-called "cotton paradise" - Ivanovo.
Although the tourist flow from Russia to Finland is growing (last year it increased by 5.3% to 21 million people), the Finns do not have enough Russian money, they miss the money of "crazy Russians", according to local media.
Visitors from Russia stopped spending money on their minds: for example, instead of going to restaurants, they increasingly cook food themselves, in apartments.
Therefore, local shops decided to entice Russians with free trips. “We cooperate with the German hypermarket chain, which is widely represented in Finland,” says Roman Tsvetkov, Executive Director of ScanTur. “She is the main sponsor of the project.”
According to him, while such travel is not very much, but they are increasingly in demand, and have to book a place for a week.For fish and meat
All that is required of a tourist is a passport with a valid Schengen visa.
According to the rules, you need to purchase goods for at least 50 euros or pay for the transfer - 500 rubles. At the border, the Russians will be able to return some of the money by issuing a Tax Free.
“This is not classic tourism, but shopping,” the expert stresses. “In the morning, people take the bus waiting for them near the Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station, come to Lidl, make purchases, they have time to go to other shops, and in the evening sent back to St. Petersburg. "
At the same time, Roman Tsvetkov warns, the largest stores are located outside of Lappeenranta, and it’s unlikely to explore the sights of the city.
“Usually they buy dairy, meat products, household chemicals, fish,” says Roman. “Many say that goods in Finland are cheaper and more qualitative than in Russia.”
The supermarket publishes information about discounts on the Web, which also attracts customers. In early March, for example, Easter sweets were advertised at competitive prices, and in February, smoked salmon (700 grams for 14.49 euros) and Norwegian fried (6.99 euros for 1.5 kilograms).
Need people to travel to Finland
Free shuttles will also help to get to Finland. “We need people to travel to Finland. Why? Every person who has a foreign passport and a valid Schengen visa has the right to import goods to Russia costing up to 1,500 euros and weighing up to 50 kg duty free. We buy clothes and food in Finland for about 20-35 kilograms per person. If the customs officers at the border have any questions, you will say that you are carrying things for yourself. "
The legality of such travel is in doubt. But the tourist can "walk along Lappeenranta and see not only the five main shops, but also take a walk along the embankment, slowly drink coffee and enjoy the life of ordinary Finns."
Judging by the reviews, such tourists buy anything: from phones "200 euros cheaper than in Russia" to detergents.Whose tire
Some companies organize free tours to Finland for car tires.
Finnish and Russian customs at the border checkpoint of the traffic police car "Nuyamaa" on the border of Finland and Russia
“The main task of the customs officer is that you confess that you are carrying tires for sale,” blogger Yevgeny Zolotukhin quotes one of the “tire workers”. children (parents), they will not be able to show you anything and will quietly let them into Russia! "
For some reason tires interest customs officers more than other goods. In the comments write that sometimes for participation in the "tire" tours even pay extra. Some drivers who do not want to get into dubious stories, warn potential fellow travelers in advance: "The bus has a separate cargo compartment, but the COVERING DOES NOT LEAVE."
“Customs officers often ask additional questions, but it’s almost impossible to prove that you bought things for sale and not for personal use,” explains ATOR’s legal director Nadezhda Efremova.Free tours for the rich
The most well-known category of conditionally free trips, available not only to residents of border regions, is “fur coats”. The price of the trip is 1 euro, but you agree to buy one or two fur coats worth at least 1,200 euro.
As a rule, tourists are taken to the “fur capital of Europe” - Greek Castor, where more than a thousand fur factories. All travel expenses are borne by the Kastoria fur association.
For 1 euro you pay airfare, hotel accommodation 4-5 * (two nights), medical insurance, transfers, meals, excursion on the way to Kastoria. All other excursions - or in the fur factories and shops, or for a fee.
“For those who want to buy a fur coat, this is really profitable. But the popularity of such trips has decreased significantly,” says the head of Mouzenidis Travel, Alexander Tsandekidi. “This is due to both a decrease in the purchasing power of Russians and a change in fashion.”
He noted that the popularity of other trips to Greece has grown - behind real estate. "In the past few years there has been an explosive growth of interest in such trips," the expert says. According to him, the high demand is due to the low cost of real estate in Greece and the loyal terms of its purchase."Calico Paradise"
Coils with threads on embroidery equipment in the sewing workshop of the cotton factory named after FN Samoilov in Ivanovo. Archival photo.
There are also free tours in Russia. Residents of Nizhny Novgorod, Vologda, Kostroma and other cities of Russia are being taken to Ivanovo for textiles. Most programs in the gingham paradise do not have any obligations.
Visitors are carried through Ivanov’s textile centers, some programs also offer visits to the Krasnaya Presnya jewelry factory or Shuiskaya Vodka distillery.