I had been eagerly looking forward to interviewing Robert Drumm, CEO of Alexander + Roberts, to hear his views on current events from his perspective as head of the company that has done more than any other to promote American tourism to Russia since the 1950s.
As explained elsewhere, Alexander + Roberts, under its previous name General Tours, was the first American tour operator to offer tours into Soviet Russia in the 1950s. It began in the early years of the Cold War, while there was a Red Scare blazing in the United States. Popular figures at the time were being blacklisted, prevented from earning a living, for even the suspicion of sympathies with the Communist Party at any time in their lives. It took a lot of courage for Alex Harris, the founder of General Tours, to launch tours to Russia in that climate.
Bob Drumm started working with Alex Harris in the ‘80s, and in the 1990s Harris passed the baton to him to head General Tours. Drumm continues to head the company today Read the rest of this entry »
Keeping a constant, anxious watch on the heartbreaking news pouring out of Ukraine, I have come across some demoralizing reports that say most Russians support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
On March 6 the Guardian reported that “Despite the international condemnation and sanctions that have met the military attack, Putin’s approval ratings have jumped in Russia since the invasion, according to Moscow-based pollsters. Putin’s rating rose six percentage points to 70 percent in the week to 27 February, according to the state pollster VTsIOM. The pollster FOM, which conducts research for the Kremlin, said Putin’s rating had risen seven percentage points to 71 percent in the same week.”
According to a March 8 article in the Washington Post, “58 percent of Russians support the invasion of Ukraine, and 23 percent oppose it, a new poll shows.”
One article showed a picture of an angry-looking Russian woman holding up a placard with a big Z on it, indicating her support of Read the rest of this entry »
After a year of being pent up, the Great Release is upon us, and now it seems sudden. Things are opening faster than predicted just a few months ago.
In March 2020, the COVID pandemic submerged us in the exponential growth of new infections and, before we could comprehend what was happening, we were virtually imprisoned, taking shelter to save our lives. We settled in and got used to being confined. Now the release is happening all around us. And it seems to be happening faster than almost anyone expected.
The demand for travel is, unsurprisingly, going through the roof. But to say “it’s complicated” is to vastly understate the circumstances. World travel now is an extremely tangled web. Read the rest of this entry »