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Inbound tourist flow to Russia grows in volumes and quality

Within the period from January to June 2012 foreigners made 993.4 thousand trips to Russia. According to Russian statistics, there is 21.6% growth if compared to the same period of the previous year. However, the first half of a year is not the most significant time for inbound tourism and tour operators hope results of summer and autumn will not only nail down the data, but perfect it as well. According to collective opinion season-2012 is not the worst one, though at some destinations the situation is complicated and requires filigree work of the host companies.


Growth of the main entry markets doesn’t exceed the average indicator: Germany grew by 22.4% (up to 143.7 thousand arrivals) and held the leading position. The flow from the USA grew by 21.4% (63.5 thousand arrivals), France grew by 20% (51 thousands), Great Britain – by 24% (50.8 thousands). According to Russian statistics such European countries as Italy, Switzerland and Austria grew as well. Only Spain showed a 7% decline.


The Tari Tour Company General director Marina Levchenko belives the European crisis to influence all markets is this or that way, but Spaniards experience it more than anybody else. “Germans also feel the crisis, the price for them now is more important than before. But Moscow hotels now pursue a more competent price policy, more cheap 3* hotels are being built and Germans became active in travelling”, - explained Mrs. Levchenko. According to her, Americans forgot about the crisis as well and began travelling. “The flow from Britain grew mostly due to school and student groups which we actively welcome”, - told Marina Levchenko to RATA-news.


The Head of Svoy TT Company Sergey Voytovich is sure that Spain was distressed not by European crisis, but Russian visa center – as it appeared Spaniards require more time and money to get visa. “It strongly slows down the flow. And we will find missing tourists from France for the same reason next year”, - he explained.


Tsar Voyages Company’s General Director Elena Ladri noted that with the appearance of visa center in France the visa obtainment procedure became worse. “Visa is has become more expensive. Besides, the Consulate used to issue visas within one day, and now we wait for 10 days as an average. Such situation makes the last-minute-sales impossible”, - said Mrs. Lardi. The only thing that can save the situation is simplifying the visa obtainment procedure for companies that specialize in trips to Russia. “Russian inbound tourism has a lot of other problems besides the visa center, for example, high prices. A one-week trip to Russia costs €1-1.2 thousand per person which is expensive for most tourists”, - explained Elena Lardi.


The Reisebuero Welt Company that mainly deals with MICE-tourism recorded a business trips inbound growth at almost same level as Russian statistics. “This time European countries became main tourist suppliers. Great Britain and Belgium as well as the USA are mostly notable among them”, - noted the Executive Director Larisa Zazulina. The geography of business events coincides with the main travel flow destination – Moscow and St. Petersburg. Lately, combo tours to Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod are in demand as new hotels are actively being built there.


However, some tour operators doubt the data on Europe of Russian Statistic Service. “The numbers for sure should be lower. For example, there is growth from Germany, but is not so high. I think the reason for such rates is in the complicity of business visa obtainment. Most businessmen require tourist visa, but the amount of real tourists slightly increased”, - said Sergey Voytovich.


The Intourist Company’s Vice President Nikolay Kakora doesn’t agree with Russian statistics. “I believe the most we can count on is the last year’s level. Europeans have no time to think about travelling, they’re full of worries how to survive. We don’t stake on Europe. Financial growth and client increase we get from China, Iran, Iraq and non-visa countries of Latin America”, - he told RATA-news.


Iran and Iraq make no difference on Russian market, but the tourist increase from China and Latin America was recorded by many companies. China’s success can be explained by the population income increase and state policy. “The party said “it’s obliged”, they divided by destinations and set off. Moreover, there’s huge advertising campaign of our country coincided to the year of Russia in China”, - noted Sergey Voytovich. Nikolay Kakora believes the party not to be the only matter. “They come as they want to get acquainted with their nearby neighbor, - he said. – Moreover, the image of Chinese tourism has changed. Good tourists who are ready to pay for additional and more qualified services, cool hotels and interesting programs started to come”.


More than by one third grew tourist flow from such faraway country as Brazil. It’s still not to large (10 thousand arrivals), but can already be compared to the number of tourists from Austria, Switzerland and even with nearby Estonia. Besides the increasing welfare of Brazilians and the visa cancellation, Transaero launched a direct flight to Rio-de-Janeiro. As a result, present indicators on inbound tourist flow from Brazil are three times higher than in 2008. Along with Brazil there appeared several more shiners: India that grew more than twice this year (+124%), Australia (+56%) and Turkey (+46%).


“The flow from India really has grown and will continue to grow, - says Marina Levchenko. – About 300 million people can be considered as middle class, and they’re ready to spend money on travelling. They are not satisfied with the deficit of Indian restaurants in Moscow – our food doesn’t go with them and those restaurants that specify in Indian cuisine are very expensive”. Nikolay Kakora is more careful in the assessments: there is growth of Indians, but the numbers are too high. “Indians are interested in Russia and even go on get-to-know trips. We show and explain them everything, but then they send their groups directly to hotels”, - he complained.


According to tour operators, the tourist flow from Australia is stable. Not businessmen, but real tourists come to our country – going for a month to Europe, they often visit Russia. However, according to Mr. Voytovich, Russian statistics’ 50% growth seems to be overstated; 20-25% is more realistic.


Three times more Turkish tourists came to Russia within January-June 2012 if compared to the same period of 2009 – 46.6 thousand opposite 17 thousand which is almost equal to Italy (47.7 thousands). Not all tour operators convince Russian statistics, but there’s no doubt that more tourists from Turkey started coming to Russia after visa regime cancellation. More often tourists from this country come in inter-season as in summer they serve tourists themselves. They come for weekend, see Moscow and St. Petersburg. Recently they discovered Kazan. Often these are rewarding trips from employers.


Israel showed growth (+24%) in the first half of 2012. According to tour operators, among main reasons are visa-free regime and good air traffic between our countries. But according to them, most of this flow comes to Russia bypassing travel agencies.


There are more Japanese tourists in Russia (+42%). The Director of the Tumlare Corporation representative Company Elena Rusova agrees with the number. According to her, Japanese tourists return to the Russian market after the devastating tsunami. “We don’t have statistics yet, but this year there are more tourists from Japan than before, - told the Director of Tourdepo Company Alexey Djegalov to RATA-news. – We’re not sure next year it will be the same as there are a lot of complaints on hotels of the Golden Ring cities. Unfortunately, the season was rich for both tourists and problems”. The Svoy TT Company also recorded demand from Japan; Intourist has same level of the previous year.


Among those countries who cut down their trips to Russia are Finland (-10.3%), Estonia (-13.6%) and Denmark (-22.4%). According to tour operators, first two countries are victims of Russian visa centers; the third one has its own economic problems and doesn’t have advertisement of Russia as a travel destination. According to the Director of Fremad Russia Company Moscow’s department Nina Tikhontseva, citizens of Northern Europe now travel to Moscow less than they used to. “Most of them go to St. Petersburg, but in general, the organized flow declined. In recent years, the amount of private trips to Russia is growing: both tourists book hotels through internet themselves and a lot of western companies book hotels directly”, - she explained.


Arrivals of foreign tourists to Russia in the 1st half of 2012

(thousands of arrivals)

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