Travelport с 18 января

Valentine’s Day fails to become a travel occasion for Russian lovebirds

Search requests made on Sletat.ru travel portal for flights departing between the 9th and 13th of February and, thus, including St. Valentine's Day, show that Russian tourists are mostly interested in Thailand (31% of all requests), Egypt (20.3%) and UAE (6.7%). And as for European destinations – Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, they failed to reach a mere 2-percent mark; leave alone the "romantic" Paris stopped well short of 1%.

Outbound tour operators claim that the overwhelming majority of these bookings have absolutely nothing to do with Valentine's Day; it's just that this day happens to fall on student winter vacations, and the mentioned leading exotic destinations are primarily in-demand in winter, when there's a peak season there. As RATA-news was told by the Director General of Roza Vetrov Company Ms. Irina Kryukova, the Russians don't take much interest in the Catholic holiday. "Off course, we always come out with special offers to Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, as well as our traditional Geneva and Lausanne Weekends. But there's never been any extraordinary demand, while bookings for March 8 are already going quite well". And she has hardly seen any clients wishing to arrange a trip on that very Valentine's Day. They go on vacation as planned, and the holiday just comes extra, not being the travel occasion.

For three years now, Avanti Company has been fixing up special offers for Valentine's Day. But to tell the truth, they are being asked for quite rarely, informs the operator's Development Director Ms. Natalia Evstratova, adding that in February, the most in-demand country is not Switzerland – the company's principal destination, but Italy that stages the iconic Carnival of Venice at almost the same time. "There've been no specific requests for St. Valentine's Day; and even though it falls on Thursday this year, our tours for prolonged weekend in Switzerland haven't paid off", said Ms. Evstratova.

The head of Vand International Tour Mrs. Tatyana Vand makes no secret that this is not even a holiday for her. "They'd better promote June 8 – the Day of Orthodox Saints Peter and Fevronia, the Russian day of those in love". Nonetheless, the company's product range does include programs featuring Valentine's Day in, say, Prague or Paris; but since it's a business day, they barely make any difference". And even if someone travels abroad at this time, Saint Valentine has nothing to do with it, Mrs. Vand assures.

On the other hand, DSBW Tours qualify mid February as a period of high demand for all destinations. But the company's Deputy Director Mr. Oleg Balakirev doesn't confirm a direct correlation between Valentine's Day and the growing demand. "The demand for this period is higher if compared to the background, as the expert puts it, after all, between mid January and March 8 a period of relative slack usually takes place, making us set out special offers. But there's no need to do it for the Valentine's week, the sales go quite smoothly anyway". Mr. Balakirev added that his company doesn't offer special tours for February 14; the holiday is used as another opportunity to encourage attention of clients.

Albeit Russian lovebirds have been showing little interest in spending the holiday outside the country, they have concerned themselves with domestic destinations. Hotel booking portal Oktogo.ru released a rating of Russian cities mostly booked for Valentine's Day. It includes: Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Krasnodar, Sochi, Rostov-on-Don, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Kostroma and the Red Glade.

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