According to the press service of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), Spain has become the most popular destination for Russian travelers. Outbound Russian tourist flows are rebounding, especially for vacation packages. Tour operators note that most Russians vacationers prefer economizing on excursions.
With Russians vacationers prefer economizing on excursions and looking for the best destination deals, far fewer Russians are headed to Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Austria and Poland according to the report. ATOR’s press service elaborated on the value in Spain:
“Spain was the most popular destination for Russian travelers in January-September 2016. The number of Russian tourists going to Spain has risen by almost 3.3% since 2015. However, it is still below the 34% recorded in 2014.”
According to the news, Thailand ranked second after Spain with 704,700 Russians visiting the Southeastern Asian country in 2016. Cyprus was the third most popular destination, and Turkey stayed in fourth place. The top ten popular destinations also included Bulgaria, Montenegro, Vietnam, Croatia, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia.
Also in the report, Russia saw a 40% increase in Chinese tourists too. Oleg Safonov, the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) told Russian news agency TASS in an interview:
“The Chinese make up a considerable part of inbound tourism flows with 1.12 mln Chinese entering Russia last year,” the agency chief said. “The number of Chinese tourists coming to Russia – on organized visa-free group tours in particular – had doubled over the past three years. According to the Russian Committee for Statistics, the number of package tours increased by 41% in the first 9 months of 2016 compared to last year’s indicators.”
Also via Rostourism, the fact 27 million foreign tourists visited Russia in 2015 speaks well of the tourism market there. According to Saonov, travelers from Poland, Finland, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Southeast Asian states visited Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk, the northern Vologda region, Lake Baikal most frequently. Crimea was also on the list of destinations where foreigners sought out value.
On the Crimea note, a visa-free mechanisms for Chinese tourists in 2017 under a Russian-Chinese agreement will allow Russian and Chinese tourists to cross borders without visas, the Crimean Ministry of Resorts and Tourism reported earlier this month.