Just in time for the meteorological beginning of summer, the Association of Tour Operators in Russia presents statistics on this year’s travel plans of Russians. According to this, most tourists either fly to Turkey or decide to vacation at home.
Russia and Turkey are among the most popular holiday destinations for organized trips this summer, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said on Tuesday. The share of trips to Turkey in total foreign tourism is increasing, as the country is currently one of the few destinations that are served directly from Russia. In addition, Turkey no longer requires visas from Russian citizens and, from June 1, no longer requires PCR tests. The main part of the bookings is in the holiday resorts around Antalya, the rest in the Aegean. According to ATOR, the average duration of a holiday in Turkey is 7 to 12 nights.
Holiday trips within Russia are no less in demand. Accordingly, more than 60 percent of all domestic bookings fall on the Krasnodar region with the city of Sochi. Crimea follows in second place, although this destination will see the largest drop in bookings in 2022. This is followed by Saint Petersburg and the region around Mineralnye Vody in the Stavropol region.
The top five destinations also include Abkhazia, where some popular hotels are already fully booked, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. None of these countries require Russian citizens to have a visa, which must be obtained before departure.
The first year after the pandemic is by no means perfect for the Russian travel industry. In general, the number of trips abroad sold by tour operators from June 1 to August 31, 2022 was 18 to 20 percent lower than in the previous year, ATOR reported. For some organizers, the decline is up to 70 percent.
On the one hand, the burgeoning desire to travel is influenced by the general uncertainty that flights may suddenly be canceled or national borders closed due to the geopolitical situation. Another hurdle is that there are currently no direct flights from Russia to the European Union. The EU closed the airspace for Russian aircraft at the end of February. Tourists who still want to go west will have to change trains at least once, for example in Turkey or Armenia. This makes the route longer and, last but not least, more expensive.
On the other hand, the last remaining corona measures are affecting booking behavior. Finland, for example, requires a vaccination certificate valid in the EU for entry, which not many people who want to travel to Russia have. Countries like Portugal, Denmark or Latvia currently do not issue any tourist visas. Most tourists go to the embassies of Italy, Spain, France, Austria or Hungary for a Schengen visa. However, these countries are also currently imposing additional conditions. Austria, for example, requires paid flight and hotel tickets for the visa application. This involves a certain risk, because if a visa is not issued, a lot of money will be lost.
The closure of airports in the south of the country is also having a negative impact on purchasing behavior. Russia closed several airports at the end of February and has been extending the flight bans again and again since then. According to ATOR, this is forcing many people to take vacations in their region or in a neighboring region this year.
According to a recently published study by the European Travel Commission, Russians’ desire to travel to Europe has increased to travel, hit its lowest level on record due to the war in Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions. According to this, 60 percent of the Russians surveyed are not planning any trips outside the CIS countries in the short term. Of these, almost half have no travel plans at all and 13 percent cannot afford a trip to Europe. Another 10 percent cited fear of anti-Russian sentiment as a reason not to travel to the West. According to the study, only 20 percent of Russians surveyed said they were considering a trip to Europe this summer. In 2021, despite the pandemic, it was still 39 percent.
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