2 Aug 2023 15:50

Number of foreign tourists visiting Russia up by 100,000 in H1 but still only one tenth of 2019 figure - Russian tour association director

MOSCOW. Aug 2 (Interfax) - Around 187,800 foreign citizens visited Russia as tourists in the first half of 2023, which is only one-tenth of the record-breaking figure seen before the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of 2019, Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), said on Wednesday.

"Compared to 2022, the flow of tourists grew by 130% in the first half of this year, but it was 81,000 last year and around 187,000 this year. For comparison, there were about two million standard tourists in the first half of 2019, apart from those travelling on business or visiting relatives. Therefore, these are very sad visitor statistics," she said.

The largest number of tourists visiting Russia have come from China, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, but most of them have traveled on business, she said.

"China takes first place, [but] those were [tourists] with visas, while standard tourists didn't come here, and there were no groups. Indeed, there were a lot of businesspeople, but they were not the right kind of tourists. Then Germany, Kazakhstan, Turkey - we also understand that we're speaking mainly about business tourists. It's good that we have them; they take places in hotels, buy services, visit museums, and generate added value. But these are not the kind of tourists sought by the tour business," Lomidze said.

According to ATOR, Chinese tourists made 32,000 trips to Russia in the first half of 2023, compared to nearly 600,000 in the same period in 2019. Another 20,600 tourists visited Russia from Turkey, 12,500 from Germany, and 9,300 from Iran.

The total number of foreign arrivals in Russia in the first half of 2023 was 7.2 million, which is 23% fewer than in the first half of 2022.