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MOSCOW, April 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Geopolitics and the global economic slowdown are exerting an ever greater influence on the Russian tour business, thus proving once against that everything is intertwined in today’s globalized world and no separately taken country can win from cataclysms in another country.
The new spring/summer holidaymaking season, which the Russians always look forward to after long and frosty winters, has been marred by reports on terrorist acts in Egypt - a country where Russian tourists flood the beaches starting from early spring.
In the wake of the terrorist acts in Cairo, the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) came up with a reminder at the beginning of April, saying the Foreign Ministry had alerted the Russian tourists earlier to the importance of staying within tourist areas and refraining from trips to big Egyptian cities where the threat of terrorism and other crimes was high.
Almost 2 million Russians spent their vacations on the beaches of the Red Sea last year. Even the July military coup, which plucked President Mohammed Morsi out of power, did not scare them away.
This winter, an ultimatum issued to foreign tourists by the jihadist grouping Ansar Bait al-Maqdis that demanded all of them leave Egyptian resorts within days frightened off a part of holidaymakers and pressed down the flow of tourists to that destination.
But all the same, the Russians’ trips to Thailand bring out the truth of claims about the mystique of the Russian soul. In spite of mass actions by the opposition in Bangkok and the unstable political situation in other parts of the Thai kingdom, the number of Russian tourists going to that country has increased in recent months, says Viktor Kriventsov, the honorary consul of the Russian Federation in the Thai provinces.
Various estimates suggest that 1.5 million to 1.8 million Russians visited Thailand in 2013.
Russians have displayed a marked growth of interest towards Cambodia, India’s southern state of Goa and Vietnam. Those destinations have already gained the status of top choices for spending a vacation.
The three new destinations divert customers from the United Arab Emirates and Thailand by less expensive hotels, says Maya Lomidze, the Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia.
On the face of it, the flow of Russian clientele to Dubai famous for its expensive hotels is decreasing. A decrease is also registered in the ‘faraway lands’ like Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
Although Moscow and the EU have contradictions over the events in Ukraine, the EU does not restrict the issuance of visas to ordinary Russians, including tourists. The statistics on trips to the EU is fairly optimistic and it shows that the number of Russians going there gets 20% higher on the average every six months.
Greece, Spain and Italy remain in the lead among the options for summer holidays, while Croatia, a former ‘land of milk and honey’ for Russian travelers, has been ceding its positions after it joined the Schengen agreement. Poland, which plays the role of a gateway to Europe for innumerable Russia tour groups traveling by bus, is also satisfied with how the flow of tourists is growing.
Purchases of tours to France have gone up 40% and Cyprus is getting ready to host 750,000 Russian holidaymakers.
Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism also forecasts a growth of tourism from Russia. It says more than 1.5 million Russians visited the country last year, up 31.6% from 2012. Spaniards say each Russian tourist spends about 1,500 euro in their country and this is more than tourists from other countries do.
Still, the current tendency towards a reduction of the Russians incomes’ puts tour operators on alert. Russia’s largest retail banking institution, Sberbank, says the outflow of monies from private deposits stood at almost 68 billion rubles ($ 1.9 billion).
Experts link the fact to the economic slowdown and geopolitical instability, a time when people prefer to invest in durable commodities and to shelve the traveling plans.
In this situation, authorities in the Crimean Peninsula that reunited with Russia March 18 pin special hopes on a new type of tourism the patriotic traveling. Sergei Aksyonov, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea has expressed the hope that from six to eight million Russians will visit the peninsula in the forthcoming season of vacations.
A patriotic action titled ‘Choose Crimea for Your Vacation’ has been launched in all parts of Russia. Deputies of the State Duma have decided to inspire the Russians with their own example, in the light of which of most of them have made public their plans to spend the summer vacation there.
Russia’s largest monopolies, Gazprom and Rosneft, have taken decisions to organize holidays for their numerous workers and staff members in Crimea, and similar proposals are coming from the governors of Russian regions and heads of largest corporations.
On this background, Russian airlines promise discounted airfares for Crimea.
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