How it works:
- Situation: this is something that currently affects Chinese tourists but can easily affect others too.
- Opening: there are Chinese tour operators which bring large groups of Chinese tourists into Russia with low rates, free food and free accommodation (hence called the zero dollar tour).
- Set-up: throughout the trip, they are taken to Chinese-run businesses and coerced into spending at inflated prices, with guides claiming that they are getting a bargain. These tourists generally fall for it as they cannot imagine being cheated by their own countrymen. Some Russian tour operators also partner with these schemes or are invested in them.
Places to beware:
- St. Petersburg
What to do:
- When choosing tour operators, ask – is it licensed? Is there a website, office and working phone number? Are there real online reviews? What does the price cover – is it too cheap?
Reputable operators: some reputable local names to consider include Bridge to Moscow (one of the top operators with over 10 years of experience and excellent reviews on TripAdvisor), etc.