Russia proposes to subsidize domestic travel

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MOSCOW, Russia – Russian companies could start paying for a portion of their employees’ vacations inside Russia if a proposal by the state tourism agency to boost domestic tourism comes to fruition.

Up to 40 or 50 percent of Russians’ holidays could be paid for by their employer under the plan as long as the time is spent inside Russia, the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Monday.

Alexander Radkov, head of the state tourism agency Rostourism, told Rossiiskaya Gazeta that the idea would promote domestic tourism and draw profits to federal and regional budgets.

The program envisions the creation of an organization to coordinate deals for interested employers to buy wholesale package holidays to Russian tourist destinations and resell them to employees at a discounted rate.

It would also change the state tax code to allocate money from company profits to employee vacations and to eliminate income tax for employees on those funds.

Employees’ families and children would also get discounted domestic travel under the agency’s plan, which Radkov said would be available to all companies in Russia and could start as early as next year.

Rostourism estimates that the program, currently under consideration by the Economic Development Ministry, would attract some eight million participants, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported.

Last year 33.5 million Russians took holidays inside Russia, according to Rostourism. The Federal State Statistics Service said in January that 12 million Russians went on foreign holidays in the first nine months of last year.

The most popular foreign holiday destinations among Russians include Turkey, Egypt, Greece and Thailand.