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MOSCOW, November 18 /TASS/. Most Crimean hotels have been booked almost to capacity for the New Year season, Oleg Safonov, the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) told TASS.
"Crimea is a popular tourist destination this winter. New Year booking got underway late in the high winter season and has been intensive since then. The information we have been receiving from hotel and travel operators shows that the tours to Crimea have been selling well. The best Crimean hotels have practically been booked to capacity for the New Year," Safonov went on to say.
According to Safonov, Crimea is an all-round tourist destination. "Despite the fact that the peninsula is more frequently associated with beach vacations and 60%-70% of tourists visit it in the peak summer season, it can also offer good options for tourism in autumn, winter and also spring. So the term "inter-season" is relative when talking about Crimea," Safonov told TASS.
Crimea has also become a popular destination for Chinese tourists.
Crimea will preserve visa-free mechanisms for Chinese tourists in 2017 under a Russian-Chinese agreement allowing Russian and Chinese tourists to cross borders without visas, the Crimean Ministry of Resorts and Tourism reported earlier this week.
"The Ministry of resorts and tourism is preparing a list of travel operators willing to receive and service Chinese tourists in 2017," the ministry’s report said adding the lists of tourism operators would be ready before the year’s end.
Russia and China signed an inter-governmental agreement on visa-free trips for organized tour groups (those who book their tours through travel agencies) in 2000. Crimea, which became part of Russia after the March 2014 referendum, used visa-free schemes to receive the first official group of Chinese tourists in September 2016. The second group of Chinese tourists visited the peninsula a month later.
Crimea has transformed into Russia’s major resort region starting 2014. Almost 4.6 million people visited the peninsula last year. According to Alexey Chernyak, head of the Crimean parliamentary committee in charge of health resorts and tourism, the peninsula is gearing up to receive 6 million vacationers this year.