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RMT - Covid-19 - Status Report, March 13

Dear friends,

During last weeks we see breaking news about covid-19 epidemy in the world. Some of you asked me in private mails how it can affect our tours, others received updates on this issue in groups mails. But as it was not exhaustive and comprehensive overview, and also because situation is always changing, we decided for next two months send you regular (every two weeks) updates on the situation with the covid-19. We understand that many of you feel not safe with current unpredictable situation and with think clear and transparent communications will be useful during these times.

First of all we follow the situation with the corona virus since middle of January. Local epidemy that appeared in China first, recently spread to most of the world, with three main centers, Italy (and some other countries of the European Union), South Korea and Iran. In January and February, as long as virus was mostly in China, global effect was minimum, but when 2-3 weeks ago virus spread into European Union markets started to fall, authorities began closing public places (schools, universities, etc.), cancelling fairs, concerts and sport games. In last days we see that countries began imposing self-quarantine, closing the borders for 3-4 weeks, limiting air connection/tourism.

Our vision of the situation is the following:

  • Covid-19 is not the first and not the last virus in our history. There were many other epidemies in the past and always in a few months after taking measures everything was fine. Still situation is developing now in such a way, that it can affect your travel plans and we can’t but admit this
  • There are many other diseases in the world that take more lives every day, covid-19 is not so scary comparing to them. Its main risk is ease of distribution and lack of medicine at the moment. But authorities take measures, we know how to behave, world leading pharma companies and scientific centers work on medicine against it. We sure they will invent it soon
  • In the last days many countries announced that they will literary close their borders with Italy, Iran, Korea. Many air companies cancelled flights to Europe. We think that recent actions by different countries to limit travelling or impose quarantine are good news. China adopted quarantine in the beginning of February, when government realized epidemic is real, and in 3-4 weeks they got rid of infection and today in China it’s over. Thousands get recovered every day with literary no new cases. USA, Europe, Russia, India, Australia and many other countries recently announced that traveling will be limited in the next 2-4 weeks to prevent spread of the virus. Although it can look scary, these are all good news. It’s better to impose global quarantine now for 3-4 weeks and stop pandemic in the world in 1-2 months, rather than allow it slowly spread, letting each country fighting on its own
  • We are pretty confident that in a month or so most of the restrictions will be removed and life will go on as before. We think that by middle/end of May covid-19 will be defeated, quarantine removed by majority of countries, travel limitations will be cancelled

But what if no? What if situation will be unclear in 1-2 months and we are too optimistic? Although we truly believe everything will be fine, we can’t discard such scenario.

We think there are several options how situation can develop.

Option one. If we take pessimistic point of view, situation in the world will be still cautious for travelling in a few months, borders closed, air connection limited. Global tourism will take heavy financial loses, like many other industries. But anyway it means that all travel plans will be simply rescheduled for later time, most probably for next year. If nobody will go touring Russia, Europe, USA, Australia, etc. this summer it means everybody will go touring these places next summer. Problem will be global, not local, all tour companies will reschedule their tours then. Like others we will postpone/reschedule our tours. Some of you can have different plans and may request refund of payment – that is fine for us, we respect your private plans and will make full refund in such case.

Option two. If situation will improve only partially, for example local centers of covid-19 will exist in some countries, some restrictions will be removed, others not. We think that in such situation it will be fine to travel to “safe” countries, that are less vulnerable to the virus. Among these countries, from our point of view, are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and some other counties with relatively large territory, relatively small population and where virus is not active. In Russia we have ~28 confirmed cases, in Australia 128, in Mongolia 1, in Brazil 52, in Mexico 20, in Canada 117.

Just few more facts regarding Russia:

  1. Population of Russia is 145 mln. people
  2. Siberia occupies ~80% of area of Russia, their lives 37 mln. ~25% of population
  3. Approx. 5% of Russians travel abroad, mostly these are Moscow and Saint-Petersburg citizens
  4. Number of foreign tourists visiting Russia is 30-50 times lower than for Italy, France, Spain

Chances to get covid-19 in Trans-Siberian Tour, Altay Mountains, Caucasus Mountains, in Sochi or Magadan are close to zero, there are almost no people there, locals don’t go abroad, tourists visit this places, but their number is relatively small. Moscow and Saint-Petersburg are more “risky” places comparing to other regions, but still its safe comparing to many other countries, places.

Option three. We believe this is most realistic scenario (as you could understand we are optimists in general, because how otherwise could we start motorcycle touring company in Russia where there are no roads, long winter and short summer?:)) In 1-2 months, because of current sanctions, restrictions and quarantine epidemy will go down, most of the restrictions will be cancelled and we will continue live our regular way of lives. All of us will have great summer with many miles and tons of emotions. We believe in this scenario because China adopted quarantine in February for several weeks and everything ended there. In Korea situation is also under control after they imposed strict quarantine. All other countries understand risks and for next 3-4 weeks limited travelling. That is good and it will show result.

So let’s take a pause, stay calm and observe how the situation will develop. We are confident life will not end because of covid-19, in 1-2 months everything will be good again.

If any questions please ask. Meanwhile take care and see you soon.

We will send next status report/update in the end of March.

p.s.: We do our usual preparations, most of the hotels booked, new bikes purchased, new guides hired, accessories ordered, tour books and GPS made, etc. Some statistics for those who interested to learn more about current epidemy and past viruses that hit humanity. And also current status of infected/recovered people by counties, data on other diseases, etc.


Best regards,

Alexander Nikonov