Starting from January 1, 2004, world's famous Hermitage along with another great Russian museums Petergoff and the Czar's Village [Tsarskoe Selo] changed their prices for foreigners from Dollars to Euro.
According to the daily newspaper “Vedomosti” (January 13, 2004), Hermitage expects to profit nearly one million dollars as a result of such operation. Travel agencies however are afraid that this may significantly reduce a number of people wishing to marvel at the Russian wonder.
Director of the State Hermitage Museum Mikhail Peotrovsky has explained that such transition to the European currency is aimed simply at restoring the initial price level set in 2000. According to Petrovsky, 400,000 International tourists visit Hermitage annually. Director of the museum-reserve “Petergoff” Vadim Znamenov adds that majority of museums have to increase ticket prices in order “to make ends meet”. About 1 million visitors attend “Petergoff” annually.
The most expensive guided tour around “Petergoff” used to cost $20. A guided tour through Hermitage equaled to $10. Today’s prices are 20 and 10 Euro accordingly.
The newspaper states that such change of currencies has turned out to be a quite unpleasant surprise for travel agencies, since many of the deals have already been paid for in summer and fall. Perhaps, majority of travel agencies will have to cancel some of the reservations and deal with significant losses.
Executive manager of the German travel company “Olympia-Reisen” Jorg Hagenloher considers the decision of the Petersburg's museums to be unethical. “In case Dresden's gallery decides to increase ticket prices, it will be done no sooner than summer, when tour operators will have anough time to make all the necessary corrections in their databases,” remarked he in his interview to “Vedomosti”. According to Hagenloher, a six-day tour in Petersburg on the average costs 924 Euro, from which 180 Euro is only for cultural events (six excursions to various museums) and lunches. Many tourists will most likely cancel their trips to Petersburg in case prices will exceed 1000 Euro.
“Vedomosti” remarks however that Hermitage has also adopted a new policy according to which all travel agencies will be allowed to provide a 1 dollar discount from a ticket for any museum trips. “We have rarely provided discounts,” states Peotrovsky. “Discounts mainly depended on the amount of tourists and regularity of people's attendance.” In addition, museums are epected to sign agreements with travel agencies beginning from July 1 until August 1, 2004.
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