Russian tourism numbers are surging, surpassing pre-crisis levels

In the first six months of this year, 17.1 million Russians vacationed abroad

(bne IntelliNews) – The number of Russians holidaying abroad has recovered and has almost passed its pre-crisis peak. In January-June 17.1mn Russian tourists went abroad, up by 30% year-on-year, Rosstat reported on November 8.

Russian outbound tourist trips peaked at 42.9mn in 2014, before dropping by 19% and 9% y/y in 2015 and 2016 due to ruble devaluation, geopolitical turmoil, and closure of main destinations of Egypt and Turkey.

Turkey is regaining its status of Russia’s most popular destination with 4.1mn tourists having already visited it this year, or almost 25% of total flow, according to another report by Interfax.

The largest tour operators surveyed by Vedomosti said that Turkey accounted for two thirds of all tour sales this year. Following Turkey are Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Spain, as well as Montenegro and Croatia.

The domestic tourism that was picking up in the post-2014 crisis years grew at slower 10% in 2017 so far, but the number of internal tourists is much higher at about 50mn people. Vedomosti reminds that less than 28% of Russians have a passport valid for travelling abroad, leaving a big pool of Russians forced to take a holiday at home.

In October Vedomosti reported that the bankruptcy of Russian charter air carrier VIM Avia means the cost of tours to Russia’s most popular destinations could rise by 10-20% in the next summer season.

In the next summer season, the largest destinations served by VIM Avia, such as the popular resorts in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Sochi in Russia, and the annexed Crimea peninsula, could end up being up to 20% more expensive for Russian tourists.

VIM Avia held 15% of the charter airline markets, which is the preferred way to get to holiday destinations, with 1.8mn passengers carried in January-August 2017, up by 31% year-on-year. Pulling such a large player out of the market will push both the charter and the regular flights’ prices up, markets experts surveyed by the daily agree.

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