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How the Preferences of Russian Tourists Have Changed After the Pandemic



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After the Q2 2020 blanket lockdown, countries are opening one second and closing their borders the next. Nevertheless, at the beginning of September, over 40 countries were already open to Russian tourists.

Most other countries in Europe, East, and Southeast Asia are still closed for tourists. They can be visited by residents, residence permit holders, students, and those who go to work or to close relatives.

Where did the Russians Go in H1 2021?

According to statistics by the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, in H1 2021 (January - June), 6.8 million trips were made from Russia to foreign countries. This is 15.4% less than in H1 2020 and 68% less than in the same period of the pre-pandemic 2019.

Only 1.4 million Russians left for tourism in the first half of the year. The tourist flow decreased significantly, both in comparison with H1 2019 (-82%) and in comparison with the same period in 2020 (-40%).

In the overall traveling score, as per results of the first half of the year, the Top 10 included

1. Abkhazia (2,023,712, almost all of the visits are non-tourist),

2. Turkey (806,212 trips, most of the visits are tourist),

3. Ukraine (792 216, all of the visits are non-tourist),

4. Kazakhstan (318,175, almost all of the visits are non-tourist),

5. UAE (294,494, almost all of the visits are tourist),

6. Finland (189,187, almost all of the visits are non-tourist),

7. Cyprus (172,671, almost all of the visits are tourist),

8. South Ossetia (166,002, all of the visits are non-tourist),

9. Armenia (162,163, the majority of the visits are non-tourist),

10. Kyrgyzstan (132,234, almost all of the visits are non-tourist).

H1 2021 Russian Tourist Flow Dynamics

Turkey traditionally remains the leader among foreign countries in terms of the number of Russians traveling for tourism purposes. More than 40% of tourists from Russia visited the country in the first half of the year. Tourist traffic to Turkey has almost tripled compared to the first half of last year, however, it is far below the pre-pandemic indicators (the drop was 72% compared to 2019).

Many mass markets remain closed to Russians, but even the mass destinations available to Russian tourists, due to the limited volume of air travel, cannot reach the pre-pandemic levels. Thailand (37th place in terms of travel of Russians for tourist purposes in H1 2021), Italy (22), China (59), Germany (14), Spain (26), and Vietnam (67) left the pre-pandemic top ten countries' leaders.

That being said, niche destinations are showing incredible growth. Tanzania showed the largest increase from the Top 10 leaders in tourist trips from Russia — 66 times more Russians visited the country in H1 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Compared to H1 2019, in H1 2021, the tourist flow to Egypt increased by 14 times, to the Maldives by 3 times. The tourist flow to Cuba also slightly increased — an increase amounted to 21%.

In addition to these countries, the UAE (tourist flow of H1 2021 decreased by 44% compared to H1 2019), Cyprus (-58%), Armenia (-60%), Greece (-92%), and Tunisia were in the Top 10 of travel destinations (-91%).

Source: Fedstat, August 2021

H1 2021 Dynamics of Business Tourism

137.5 thousand Russians left for business purposes in H1 2021. The flow of business tourists from Russia increased by 3% compared to H1 2020, however, compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the decline was 55%.

In terms of the number of Russians who left for business purposes, Turkey became the number one, the flow of business tourists to which increased by 15% compared to H1 2019. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, the number of business trips to Ukraine (+366% to H1 2019), Estonia (+330%), Poland (+52%), and Kyrgyzstan (+26%) has grown exponentially.

Germany (-86%), Kazakhstan (-53%), Uzbekistan (-31%), UAE (-29%), and Armenia (-26%) lost the largest number of the countries of the Top 10 business tourists from Russia in H1 2021.

Source: Fedstat, August 2021

Where Do Tourists from Russia Want to Go?

According to the results of a survey conducted by, in the fall of 2021, Moscow residents want to go to Italy, but due to restrictions, they fly to Turkey instead.

Service experts note that Moscow residents are waiting for the opening of borders and looking for a ticket to closed Europe and Asia almost as often as to Turkey.

Closed Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Indonesia, Czech Republic, China, Japan, Israel, and Vietnam were included in the Top 30 in terms of the number of flight searches.

Concerning booking tickets, Turkey has become the leader here, which accounts for a quarter of all bookings abroad. It is followed by Greece, Cyprus, Maldives, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Croatia, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, and Egypt.

Find out more insights about the changing preferences of Russian tourists in the latest issue of the Russian Tourism Market Digest.

Russian Tourism Market Digest

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About the Author

Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva

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