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KIEV, November 25 /TASS/. Moscow and St. Petersburg remain popular Christmas and New Year destinations for Ukrainians though Ukraine’s tour operators would not dare to admit that publicly, the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti, which had conducted its own market research, said.
"Ukrainians go to Russia for Christmas and New Year holidays. A number of our tourist companies are simultaneously offering tours to Moscow and St. Petersburg. On the sidelines, tour operators are noting a rise in demand for (New Year and Christmas) holidays in Russia. However, they are afraid of openly confirming that," Vesti said.
Travel agencies offer multi-day bus tours beginning in Ukraine and separate programs for those who want to travel to Russia on their own as individual tourists. Traditional tourist attractions in St. Petersburg include the Hermitage and the Pushkin Museums; the Kazan and St. Isaac Cathedrals and the Peter and Paul Fortress. Visitors also have a chance to watch the bridges draw over the Neva River.
In Moscow, tour guides traditionally take visitors to the Kremlin, Red Square, the Tsaritsyno 19th-century country estate; the Tretyakov Picture Gallery, Christ the Savior’s Cathedral, the Mosfilm studios, the All-Russia Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (VDNKH). In addition to that, tourists can book a walking tour of Moscow or an iceboat trip on the Moskva River.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian Vesti said, Russian travelers also like coming to Ukraine. Though less popular in winter, trips to Ukraine’s Trans-Carpathian region are still in demand. "Russians have been showing weak interest in sightseeing tours (to Ukraine) of late. Only isolated guided tours have been booked predominantly by people who visit Ukraine on business trips," a manager at one of the tourist companies told Vesti.
Apart from Ukraine, Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic will also be popular foreign destinations for Russian holidaymakers during the upcoming New Year season.
According to Maya Lomidze, CEO of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), a favorite foreign destination like Egypt remains closed to Russian vacationers. "Over the past few years Egypt has been the leader among the so-called ‘winter sun’ states," Lomidze told a recent news conference in Moscow. "Naturally, destinations, which can offer a relative alternative to Egypt have taken center stage," ATOR’s chief executive officer said.
"With the demand changing almost every week, New Year tours to Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic are being snapped up fast. These are the countries, which can offer a warm vacation in winter," ATOR’s chief executive officer clarified adding that tour operators in Cyprus had noticed a 10%-15% rise in demand for New Year trips to Cyprus.
Lomidze noted that Tunisia was another tourist destination, which was growing popular in Russia. "The demand (for Tunisia) jumped by 300% last summer. The New Year demand for Tunisian tours grew up by almost 50%-70%," she stressed.
"No decline or upsurge in demand for Alpine Skiing tours has been noted - the status quo remains. Austrian Alpine Skiing resorts have been the most popular both with individual vacationers and organized tourists, who book their tours via travel agencies," Lomidze said. "Italian Alpine Skiing resorts are no less popular," she stressed.
Lomidze believes that Andorra stands a good chance to become popular with Russian travelers. "New tour operators have surfaced in the market offering trips to Andorra at a fairly good price," the ATOR chief executive officer concluded.