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Russia in the World Travel Market

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According to the report International Tourism Results 2018 and Outlook 2019 prepared by UNWTO, international tourism has been demonstrating heady growth rates for the second year in a row. At year-end, the growth of the world travel industry market hit 6%, with 1.4 billion international trips.

That said, the world travel industry market has outscored not only the economic growth in general (which equaled to nearly 4%), but also previous forecasts for market dynamics until 2030 (made by UNWTO experts in 2010).

The travel industry growth was catalyzed by the following factors:

  • Favourable economic environment,
  • Strong outbound demand from major source markets,
  • Consolidation of the recovery in key destinations affected by previous crises,
  • Enhanced connectivity, and
  • Increased visa facilitation.

Middle East (+10%) and Africa (+7%) turned out to be the regions where inbound tourism is on the highest rise. The growth in Asia and the Pacific was 6%.

UNWTO Forecasts for World Travel Market 2019

In 2019, the world tourist flow growth dynamics is expected to be 3-4%:

  • Europe: +3% to +4%,
  • America: +2% to +3%,
  • Asia and the Pacific: +5% to +6%,
  • Africa: +3% to +5%,
  • Middle East: +4% to +6%.

Notably, the experts predict dynamic growth of outbound tourism in developing markets, such as Russia and India.

As the main engines of positive dynamics, UNWTO notes as follows:

  • stable fuel prices = affordable air travel,
  • better air connectivity,
  • strong outbound from emerging markets.

At the same time, world economy growth retardation, ambiguity associated with Brexit, as well as geopolitical and commercial tension may impel investors and travellers to take a wait-and-see approach.

Russian Travel Market: from 2018 to 2019

The outbound tourism market finished the year of 2018 with a humble (compared to growth rates of 2017) growth in the number of tourists. At year-end 2018, the outbound tourist flow grew only by 6.1% (in 2017 – by 35.9%).

Dynamics of Tourist Trips in the Far Abroad

According to the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, total in 2018 Russian citizens made 44.5 million trips out of the Russian Federation. This is 6.1% more than in 2017 (42 million trips).

As for countries ‘of the far abroad’ that border Russian (China, Mongolia, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), 10,326,137 trips were made there by Russian citizens, which is just 0.9% more than last year.

For the most part, as before, Russians went to these countries with non-tourism purposes. Finland has the lead with 3.671 million trips (only 271 thousand out of them stated their purpose as ‘tourism’), the second place is taken by China with 2.251 million trips (with 739 thousand trips, according to the Border Guard Service, for the purpose of ‘tourism’), and the third one is taken by Estonia with 1.8 million trips (out of them, 29 thousand, according to the Border Guard Service of FSS RF, were for ‘tourism’).

A much larger gain was demonstrated by the outbound flow to the countries of the far abroad (except for near-border countries). In 2018, its share in the total number of trips made almost half (45.7%) of the total number of Russians’ trips abroad. In total, Russians made 20,353,710 trips to these countries last year, which is 10.8% more than in 2017. Russians were mostly going to these countries with tourism purposes, including business tourism.

Top-10 Countries of the Far Abroad

Here are the most popular countries that hosted the largest number of Russians in 2018:

  1. Turkey (5.901 million trips, with the growth compared to 2017 being + 26.64%)
  2. Germany (1.408 million, +5.9%)
  3. Thailand (1.224 million, +7.4%)
  4. Italy (1.167 million, +22%)
  5. Spain (1.015 million, +3.7%)
  6. UAE (966 thousand, +23.25%)
  7. Cyprus (867 thousand, - 4.70%)
  8. Greece (839 thousand,-5.45%)
  9. Tunisia (632 thousand, +17.6%)
  10. Vietnam (556 thousand, +3.8%)

These TOP-10 countries take 71.62% of the whole Russian outbound tourist flow to the countries ‘of the far abroad’ (except for near-border ones), or 47.5% of the total outbound flow to foreign countries (except for post-Soviet ones).

Projected Growth of Russian Travel Market in 2019

  • In 2019, due to a price rise in the main mass outbound market—Turkey—as well as due to continuing ruble fluctuations, the tourists’ urge to save on abroad trips will survive.

Even now, when prices for early bookings in Turkey are 10-30% than last year, tour operators see changes in the tourists’ customer behavior: they cut their holiday time, book ‘low’ dates (April, May, early June, late October, November), choose cheaper hotels.

  • According to the pre-analysis made by experts from the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, Turkey will still be a leader in the outbound segment; however, Greece and Cyprus may rise up in 2019 thanks to a more pragmatic pricing policy (their early booking prices are even lower a bit than last year).
  • 2018 trends are about product assortment polarization. Such tendencies as demand downfall in the middle price bracket, expansion of offers in the bottom-end one, and invariance in the high-end one will go on developing and become more remarkable in 2019.
  • In the bottom-end segment, the demand will be concentrated on Turkey, Tunisia, partially UAE. For Far East and Siberia, one should expect a growth in budget-friendly offers for China, Vietnam, and Thailand.
  • With a possible appearance of Egypt in spring, the demand picture may change drastically: this destination will take away a significant part of the tourist flow, first of all, from Turkey and Tunisia.

Download the research “The Russian Tourism Market Report: Trends, Analysis & Statistics” for free and learn more about Russian travel market.

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About the Author

Digital marketing manager, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Group Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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