Rick Steves Cancels Tours to Russia in Powerful Message to Travelers
Famed travel guidebook writer Rick Steves has canceled tours to Russia amid the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, deeming Russia's actions "aggressive" and "heartbreaking."
"Russia's aggressive action is heartbreaking for the death, suffering, and economic turmoil it will cause in Ukraine and, indirectly at least, beyond," Steves' company wrote in a statement. "Our mission at [Rick Steves' Europe] is to help Americans better know and understand our neighbors through travel. But when we bring travelers to another country, we also bring their dollars — dollars that would support Putin's aggression,"
In his message he also announced that "we have canceled all 2022 tours that include a stop in Russia."
Steves' company, which operates tours throughout the continent, previously led trips to St. Petersburg as part of the "Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and Helsinki in 9 Days Tour," according to the Washington Post. The tour was scheduled to start in May with departures sold out through September.
Steves said he would continue to "keep a close eye on unfolding events," but would not be canceling other European itineraries in the meantime, adding it was "important to keep geographic realities in mind and remember that a war in Ukraine is as far from our European vacation dreams as a war in Guatemala would be from Texas or Florida."
"For 40 years now, we have lived, worked, and traveled through many periods of tragic warfare in lands far from where we lead our tours (and some closer)," he added. "And at this time, we see no reason to change the rest of our travel and touring plans."
Fans of the writer and television host voiced support for the decision on Steves' blog, thanking him for making it and agreeing the situation was "heartbreaking."
Steves is not alone in canceling trips to Russia. Last week, several cruise lines removed stops in Russia and around the region from their itineraries, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Viking Cruises.
Russia first started its invasion of Ukraine early Thursday with a series of missile strikes. On Monday, Ukrainian troops continued to fight Russian forces to hold on to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces on high alert, according to The Associated Press.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.