Egypt at own risk
Egypt has been one of the most popular destinations for winter holidays in recent years, but since summer of 2013 Ukrainian Foreign Ministry does not recommend visiting this country, as the political situation there remains unstable. "It depends on further development of the situation in Egypt. The state of emergency has not been cancelled, and our embassy has not considered to abolish recommendations. If the situation improves, we will revise them. According to the latest information, the situation in resort cities is quiet, but our recommendations to refrain from visiting Egypt remain. I want to underline that these are just recommendations. The Foreign Ministry cannot forbid anybody to go there, but we are obliged to warn our citizens about the risks," Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said.
Tour operators estimate the situation more careful, but state the fact that Egyptian resorts do not have an alternative, comparable in price.
"About 60% of Ukrainians chose ski resorts in winter, and 40% - beach vacation. Egypt has been and remains the leader of beach vacations, and the explanation is rather simple - there is no alternative product which can compete with Egypt on price and quality. A week-long tour, including flight, accommodation and "AI" meals, costs from 3000 hryvnias.
Other offers are no less attractive, but more expensive, and include Emirates, Israel, Thailand, Sri-Lanka and Goa (India). Apart from having warn weather in winter, these countries are easy to enter (visa free regime, or simple visa application procedures), which is very important for Ukrainians," Oleksandr Novikovski, the president of the Association of leading tour operators of Ukraine, says.
However, Thailand and Goa are hardly an answer to Egypt. Unlike these countries, Egypt offers low prices for flight and accommodation, as well as relatively short-time travel and famous "All Inclusive". Beaches of Emirates and Sri-Lanka are also very attractive, but vacations there will cost you way more expensive, considering that according to Oleksandr Novikovski, a Ukrainian tourist can afford to pay UAH 7.5 thousand per a week tour on average.
True winter in mountains
At the same time, this complicated situation with beach destinations is very advantageous for owners of ski resorts. According to the data of the Association of leading tour operators of Ukraine, the Carpathians are an absolute leader in this sector. If Ukrainians want to go abroad, they may chose Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, Andorra, Finland. A seven-day vacation in a small Ukrainian ski resort will cost you UAH 3.5 thousand on average. In the big and widely promoted Bukovel, however, the same week of vacations will cost 12 thousand hryvnias. The tour includes accommodation and meals, skiing equipment and lift pass, but transportation must be paid separately. To compare, a week in a ski resort of Poland or Slovakia will cost about five thousand hryvnias, in Austria - about UAH 6.5 thousand, and these prices include the flight and transfer within the countries. But going abroad tourists will have to claim visa, which is not a simple procedure for Ukrainians. Those, who do not have time for documents, can go to Turkey, where the political situation is better than in Egypt. Though the ski tourism has just started developing there, Turkish service demonstrates best of it.
There is still time
Good news is that tourists still have time. Early booking of the cheapest and most attractive New Year tours started already in summer, and discounts reached up to 40%. However, the prices have not skyrocketed yet and good deals are still plenty on the market. Moreover, it is too early for hoteliers to forecast hotel occupancy, thus they do not hurry to boost prices. The market will peak somewhere a month before the New Year, when hotels and flights usually become unavailable.
Then again, whatever you chose for your winter vacations, determination, will and persistence will bring you anywhere, but first decide what is more important - saving money, safety or new impressions.
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