Ukrainians started to book New Year tours as early as in September-October. As of today, tour operators have sold out 95% of New Year tours, keeping in store only Christmas offers. The results of the holiday boom have not been summed up yet, but tour operators say 2012 was successful for their business.

"This year we have sold many low-budget and very expensive tours (UAH 40-50 ths)," representative of the All-Ukrainian association of tour operators and director of "Artex94" tour operator Oleh Pikerski told ForUm. According to him, the most popular tours are New Year bus tours to Europe - couple of days in Germany, New Year in Paris and Christmas in Luxemburg, for example.

"Among European destinations for New Year, Czech Republic, France and Poland are traditionally popular, as well as Finland - motherland of Joulupukki. Flight and accommodation in a four-star Finnish hotel, including breakfast cost about 15 thousand hryvnias. It is difficult to book a tour there now - no time has left to process visa, but if you really can't wait to visit Finland, you can apply for urgent visa, costing almost 1000 hryvnias. It will be ready in three days," Pikerski says.

However, Finnish embassy is an exception. To process visa to other European country during pre-New Year days is mission impossible. Besides, there are no more tours left in that direction. Thus, if you still insist on celebrating holidays abroad, make plans for Christmas.

Beachgoers and thrill-seekers

Almost third part of Ukrainian tourists prefers to celebrate New Year holidays in hot countries. The most popular destinations are Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India. Many Ukrainians also go to Israel, especially to Bethlehem for Christmas - birthplace of Jesus Christ, according to the Bible. Every year this town builds more and more hotels to be able to welcome pilgrims from all over the world. 300 thousand tourists are expected there this year. 

"Despite riots Egypt still remains a popular destination for our tourists, especially Hurghada, which is relatively calm. December is not the best period for beachgoers, but it is sunny enough. The weather there depends on the wind, sitting in the desert," Oleh Pikerski warns.

South destinations are relatively cheap, which attracts many tourists. "Two weeks in Goa, India cost me a little bit more than six thousand hryvnias," a dentist Andriy says. Oleh Pikerski explains that low prices come from abundance of Arab airlines, bringing our tourists there. "The cost of tours to Emirates has dropped for the same reason. There many flights in that direction and we had to lower prices to avoid empty seats in planes. One week in UAE costs from 16 thousand hryvnias," he noted.

According to Pikerski, also Latin America has become popular among Ukrainians this year, namely Brazil, Peru and Argentina. "It is warm there, as you known, but the main attraction is exoticism. However, such tours are not cheap. Taking into account the international flight, domestic flights within the country, visa costs and tour programs, holidays in Argentina, for example, will cost minimum 32 thousand hryvnias," Oleh Pikerski calculated.

For those, who have already visited the whole world, but still want something unexplored, there are tours to the North Pole or Antarctica. Such trips cost about 65 thousand hryvnias and more. However, icy exotics attracts  the very few.

Where do you point your skis?

However, even the most exotic or hot countries are not so attractive for Ukrainians tourists on New Year, as truly winter skiing vacation. Oleh Pikerski explains that skiers are the most loyal clients, organized and responsible. Knowing all this, tour operators prepare offers already in autumn - from Alps to Caucasus. 

"Austrian ski resorts are the most popular this year among Ukrainians," official of the Tour Business Leaders Association of Ukraine Olena Bukhno told ForUm. Oleh Pikerski agrees: "Austria has become more affordable. Thus, 10-day-holiday in a three-star hotel (flight excluded) costs about five thousand hryvnias." Moreover, according to Bukhno, the tourist flow has aimed at Balkans ski resorts, Bulgaria in particular, which is cheaper than Italy and France and there are flights from Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.

Meanwhile, Evhen Samartsev, head of the All-Ukrainian union of public organizations "Council on tourism and resorts", states that foreign countries are not the priority for Ukrainians. "According to the data of the most popular search engines, Ukrainians look for vacations here in Ukraine. Traditional places for celebrating New Year and Christmas are the Carpathians - Bukovel, Yaremche and Slavske." According to the expert, our citizens also like to go to large cities. "Lviv does not have rivals in the sphere of city tourism. For many Ukrainians it is a good tradition to meet New Year there. Kyiv hotels also offer interesting programs for New Year and Christmas holidays at affordable prices. Odesa, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Kamenets-Podolsk also have something to offer," Samartsev notes.

Protect yourself!

Hardly anybody thinks about bad things while planning New Year holidays. And this is a mistake, chairman of "European tourist insurance" Myroslav Boichyn believes. To minimize the risks of the trip he recommends Ukrainians tourists to buy insurance policies, especially if you go skiing. "In Austria, for example, it costs 10 thousand euro to hire a helicopter and take a skier out of a canyon. But if you have an insurance policy, the insurance company will cover these expenses," he says.

Ski tourism is a high-risk vacation, thus insurance policies for such tours cost more. Ukrainians, though, often want to save money and buy ordinary polices, Boychyn says. And if someone gets hurt while skiing, he tries to cheat on the insurance company and assures he "was only walking by and suddenly slipped and fell over."

"However, it is better not to put your health at risk, especially when insurance policy cost is not that high. Insurance of a ten-day vacation in Egypt, Greece or Turkey, for example, cost only 25 hryvnias. Insurance of an expensive European tour cost about 80 hryvnias for ten days, and for Ukrainian resorts it will cost you only 2-3 hryvnais per day," he underlines.

Moreover, there is a possibility to insure your luggage. If your bags are late (which happens), the insurance company will allocate you 300 euro to buy essentials. It also happens that you cannot go on vacation due to poor health condition, family problems or work emergencies, and consequently you will lose the money you spent for the trip. Thus, buying your tour it is better to insure it against force majeure situations.   

Well, wherever you go for New Year - be it mountains, sea or family house, ForUm wishes all Ukrainians to celebrate the holidays happily and without incidents.

Alina Yeremeyeva


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