23 May 2024 19:52

Arab countries are chief contributors to inbound tourism in Russia

MOSCOW. May 23 (Interfax) - Organized inbound tourism in Russia continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and most tourists come from the Middle East, while Chinese tourist arrivals are falling short of tour operators' expectations, the Russian Union of Travel Industry (RUTI) said on Thursday.

"Inbound tourism has been recovering. Clearly, these are not the pre-pandemic levels. There is less of everything. We mostly had tourists from Europe in the past, and now Arab tourist arrivals rank first, their number is very large. Gulf tourists are coming here, as Russian tours are in vogue. There are both individual tourists and full-sized groups on sightseeing tours. Mostly, these are affluent guests, who do not book hotels below 4 stars," head of the RUTI International Cooperation Commission, Svoi TS General Director Sergei Voitovich said.

Izba Rus Director Svetlana Gayevich also noted the keen interest of travelers from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman in Russia.

"They have been travelling very actively since November last year, and we have also seen a surge since April. Russia is genuinely popular on the Arab market. We are expecting Indian tourist arrivals in June-July and hope the season will be good," Gayevich said.

The Doninturflot cruise company will receive many more tourists from Turkey this year. "Inbound tourism has been growing with guests from Turkey. We have two groups now, 30 and 60 people, traveling by the Tikhy Don and Gen. Lavrinenkov ships. About 20 groups are expected in summer," Doninturflot General Director Irina Samorodskaya said.

Turkish tourists mostly choose standard six-night cruises between Moscow and St. Petersburg and stay in hotels in both cities for a few days, she said.

Inbound tourism is growing but so far is falling short of tour operators' expectations, RUTI Board member, Tari-Tur General Director Marina Levchenko said.

"Trips are confirmed, we have groups, and the season in general is definitely busier than last year. Still, it somewhat falls short of our expectations for now. We were talking about a three to four-fold growth in spring, when there were many arrivals from Turkey and Indonesia. But growth slowed down after the Crocus City attack, which happened during the confirmation of summer tours. There are still many applications, but the number of confirmations and payments has decreased. There are fewer Chinese tourists than we expected," she said.

Go China Director Sergei Sedov also said that they had fewer Chinese tourists than expected.

"We can see that well in Moscow. There used to be crowds of Chinese tourists and long lines of buses. Now we see Arab guests more often. Perhaps, the reason is that Chinese tourists opt for domestic travel," he said.

In the opinion of Voitovich, most Chinese travelers in Russia are businessmen.

"I believe that Moscow hotels will be occupied by Chinese guests at the end of July, as the city is hosting the Chinese Motor Show 2024," he said.

According to the Federal Security Service's Border Service, almost 218,800 foreign tourists visited Russia in the first quarter of 2024. This is three times more than in the same period in 2023, but half as much as in 2019.