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First half of 2012 was marked with a highly noticeable repositioning of the outbound tourist flow

As promised before, RATA-news continues to bring to you Statistics data for Russian tourists traveling abroad in the first half of 2012. Please be reminded that according to Russian Federal State Statistic Services, 6.4732 million Russians travelled abroad. This is 6.6% higher than the same period of the previous year, but still 50% less than the same period of 2011. Included in this average growth rate, greater internal market shifts can be noted: greater growth of some destinations and drastic drops of the others. However, some indices for certain countries are so unexpected that it’s hard to understand if it’s the calculation method or it’s really demand that forms them.


For example Finland and Sweden showed in January-June of 2012 the tourist flow decline of 41% and 42% accordingly. The tour operators are sure that the explanation of this decrease shouldn’t be sought in the tourism itself, as the main inbound flow to Finland is formed by the frontier regions of Russia. More than likely the decrease was due to lower purchasing power in Russia. The package tours also noted some reduction but to a lesser degree. Mr. Ilea Aitkin, the General Director of the company PAC Group, considers the current situation at these destinations more successful than a few years ago. He says, «Finland experienced a dramatic decline after economic the crisis of 2008-2009 and only in the last winter it started showing some growth».


Mrs. Tatiana Zotova, Head of the company “Labyrinth” considers that the Finnish destination is not experiencing their best times. Of course, the 40% decline is a great number that difficult to agree withis a high index and it’s difficult to agree with. Nevertheless the Finnish flow recession can be quite significant. She noted that the Finland was not being promoted on the Russian market, and as every Scandinavian country needs special promotion and demand creation because Russians being citizens of a cold-climate country  tend to go to the hot southern countries to spend their holidays. As is the same in Sweden. Mr. Ilya Aitkin agrees that the good marketing policies in the Russian market are contributing greatly to the growth. Sweden has been passive in the marketing policies which is why decrease of 42% is not a surprise. He doesn’t see any objective reasons for the flow increase from Sweden to Russia.


Karen Gorchakov, the head of DSBW Company has called the Finnish recession indices «a mad figure». He noted: «Maybe the thing is that the cruises start from Saint Petersburg and the tourists going to Scandinavia may not enter in this statistics. Anyway it’s not correct to make conclusions about the tourist flow fall to Finland without taking into consideration the ferry companies’ statistics». RATA-news has noted this observation and is planning to clarify the situation on the Finnish destination in the near future.


Lithuania has demonstrated a significant fall in the Russian tourist flow(-25%). However lots of travel agents on the contrary claim a stable growth in this destination. Elena Shushevich, the General Director of the company «The Dialogue» observed the volume growth at approximately 25%. Denis Kotov, the General Director of ABC Tours also noted the growth of travel agents and tourists heading to Lithuania. He said that even if we do not take the most active period for Lithuania from January to June, there were a lot more individual tourists and groups than the year before. Mr. Kotov is also sure that the indices decrease must have been influenced by some non-touristic factors. «First thing that comes to my mind could be some differences in the calculation methods. It’s also possible that there ware less car transfers, under the pretense of tourism», he said. Denis Kotov also noted that it’s not easy to explain these conflicting results.


Tourist flow to China has experienced a significant decrease (-9.4%). Mrs. Valeria Loshitsa, the General Director of «Astravel» explains that it might have happened because of the citizens living in the Eastern territories of Russia who determine the flow of the Chinese destination. The data could have some errors because the real tourists come to China from central and Western parts of Russia, meanwhile lots of businessmen visit the country using tourist visas which could skewer the statistics and could explain a 9.4% decrease. She mentions that their company can’t see any volume fall. Mrs. Loshitsa commented that the sales for the autumn have been good as well as there have been high demand for New Year’s. Mrs. Irina Serganova, the director of «Kvinta» thinks that China could have become a victim of the drastic flow repositioning on the Russian market.  «The pricing remains the main criteria for tour choice. This year many countries including European ones had really good offers which re-orientated the flows. Now we are dealing with a delayed demand for China. In September-October, the months that are meant to be high season, China is expected to regain its positions», she explained.


Israel, Indonesia and Hungary lost approximately the same in the first half of 2012 (7%). Ekaterina Aizerman, the General Director of the company «Solvex Travel» thinks that there shouldn’t be any worries about the Israeli flow recession. She considers that it deals with natural fluctuations caused by the changing their regular holiday destination clients. «This index did not exceed 2-3%, and we are expecting good volume of sales for September», she said.


The General Director of the company «Alces», Mr. Igor Chukanov has found the reason why Hungary has experienced a decrease in  the flow of Russian tourists. The national air company that used to offer the tour operators good air fares which created well-priced packages has left the destination market. «Now we are offering a transit flight via Vienna which makes 10 thousand rubles. A direct flight with «Aeroflot» to Budapest is about 14 thousand rubles. This difference can be a deterrent for some tourists. The flow reapportioning within the other European countries could have played its role as well», he said. However Mr. Chukanov doesn’t see any fall of sales with his own company and defines the perspectives for the autumn as positive.


Tour operators’ opinions about the Indonesian flow differ. Zhanna Sinitskaya, the head of the department of the East, Asiam Indian Ocean and South American countries of the company «Carlson Tourism» doesn’t observe any demand loss. She noted that during the six months of this year, the number of tourists has even risen. The possible recession could be explained by the flows repositioning. Beforehand the Russian tourists used to visit Indonesia mostly in winter or fall, but recently the interest in the summer holidays in this country has strengthened. Mrs. Viktoria Kizimova, the General Director of «Megapolis Tours» on the contrary is supporting the Russian Statistics Service. “A slight decrease can be observed”, she confirms. «The tourists could have been frightened by the nature disasters, and decided to choose closer countries for going on holidays like the Emirates, where the hotels have become more democratict».  Besides, a cyclic return to interest to Europe has started.


Among the countries that showed the maximum growth in the first half of 2012 are Mexico (173.5%), Vietnam (108%), Tunisia (91.8%), and Hong Kong (91.6%). There are no doubts regarding the Russian Statistics data on tourism in Mexico. Mrs. Irina Ovshinnikova, the head of the Latin American Department of the company «Vand International Tour» supposes that the flow has grown thanks to the newcomers that have fully explored the South-East Asia and have decided to find something new. Mexico also attracts the ones who enjoy combining sightseeing tours with beach holidays. Mexico is pretty much easy to reach with a charter flight and it’s not a problem to get a Mexican visa. The electronic online system used by Mexico allows organizing it in a few minutes.


There are no objections to the figures presented by Vietnam and Hong Kong. Zhanna Snezhinskaya reckons that Vietnam is a cheap country which allowed citizens of the central regions of Russia to join its traditional amateurs from the Far East regions. The new brand resorts that have just appeared at the seaside  are trying to obtain the recognition of the individual tourists. Hong Kong seems to be a successful alternative to Singapore that have already been visited by many of them. In search for the fresh impressions, Russian tourists after have travelled to Singapore and are used to a certain level of service, choose Hong Kong because they offer  comfortable flights, famous world chain hotel accommodation as well as perfect shopping.  Zhanna Snezhinskaya is sure that the flow to Hong Kong will keep growing, which can be seen by the actual volume of sales.


Tunisia isn’t performing growth but is restoring its positions having lost its position during two «revolution» seasons. Those who didn’t want to visit the unstable Egypt, headed Tunisia.

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