According to the Press Secretary of the Federal Tourism Agency of Russia (Rostourism), Irina Shegolkova there was an increase of 185% of Chinese tourist taking the free visa path in early 2015. The new Russia-China accord also foretells of paradigm shifts in touristic flows and paths in the CIS as well.
In the first quarter of this year the visa free path for visitors from China saw over 24,000 tourists taking advantage of the process. According to the news trips by people from the PRC to Russia amounted to some 202,000 plus, with tourism accounting for about 41,000 of those. Overall those visits equaled a 27% growth rate as compared to the same period last year. Schegolkova recently reported that Chinese visits to Russia were generally centered around; the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Republic of Dagestan, the Republic of Crimea, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Republic of Khakasia, Moscow, and the Krasnodar region. All in all, some 32 new companies were also added to the growing list of authorized tour operators serving the sector. Schegolkova also added this:
“It’s good that the program group on visa-free regime with China joining the new regions. Thus for Chinese tourists the geography of travel in our country, which certainly will lead to further growth in tourist arrivals. According to expert estimates, the average Chinese tourist for 10 days of stay in Russia leaves 144 thousand rubles.”
The numbers don’t lie. Chinese tourists to Russia have been on the rise since 2009, having increased more than three and a half times since then. News of closer relations between the two countries, in particular the new monetary/lending news, speaks well for what it sure to become a thriving tourism business in the years to come. As far as visa free travel is concerned, the increase in tourists taking this path has grown substantially in the last few months.
As for the overall trend of Chinese travel, news of China becoming the Republic of Georgia’s largest source of direct investment shows the world’s largest economy moving to develop future paths in between Asia and Europe. Owing to Georgia’s privileged access to the European Union, and strategic location on the Black Sea, Chinese investment interests are expanding in that Caucasus nation. According to reports, there may even be a free trade agreement in the wind.
Georgia, a traditional gateway between Asia and Europe, is also on the road to Sochi and the Crimea for potential tourists from Armenia, Turkey, and especially Iran. As the Eurasian Union takes shape, and with Iran coming out of from under the blanket of sanctions, the east region of the Black Sea will surely grow tourism wise.