Norvista plan is tailored to clients seeking to adopt

NEW YORK -- Norvista, the tour operator division of Finnair, developed a program for travelers who are going to Russia to adopt a child.

It is a process that is notorious for bureaucratic glitches and last-minute changes that affect departures from the U.S. "This is not something that we ordinarily would promote because it's such a specialized thing," said Lisa Long, Norvista's manager of sales and marketing. "We will give [a flyer on the programs] to certain tourist offices and certain travel agencies who might be very happy to have it as a service."

The packages stand out because they offer special ticketing and cancellation terms. "One of the problems that people have when they go over to adopt children is they often end up not being able to travel at the time they're scheduled to go, and these people were always subject to cancellation fees," Long said.

Also, Norvista has an office in Moscow and can offer additional services to prospective parents. Fran Aherns, executive director of the Adoption Resource Center, a nonprofit child placement agency specializing in international adoptions, noted that prospective parents traveling abroad have special needs.

"A lot of these people have never left the U.S. before," Aherns said. "They are not travel-savvy, they are very anxious and, on top of the fact that they are adopting, they get very confused."

Aherns agreed that cancellations and changes in itineraries are a problem. "We tell families to keep the tickets on hold [without paying for them] for as long as possible; don't buy the ticket deals in the Sunday newspapers because you'll probably have to eat the cost."

Norvista's adoption packages range from $759 to $1,849 for three nights in Moscow at one of four hotels -- the Ukraina, the Intourist, the Tverskaya or the Golden Ring -- with breakfast daily, roundtrip transfers and roundtrip air fare from New York on Finnair.

Additional nights are from $65 at the Ukraina to $245 at the Golden Ring, with a single supplement from $189 at the Ukraina to $699 at the Golden Ring.

For cancellations two weeks prior to departure, there is no fee; within two weeks but prior to two business days, there is a $50 per person fee; within two business days, the fee is one-fourth of the package price, and inside 24 hours, the penalty is the full package price. Tickets are issued two business days prior to departure.

"This is not something that we expect will bring in a lot of business, but it is part of how we position ourselves as experts in Russia," Long said. "What we've been trying to do is offer the services that support this message."

Norvista, Phone: (800) 677-6454, Fax: (212) 818-0585, E-mail: [email protected] .net, Web: www.norvista.net

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