MOSCOW, December 26 (Itar-Tass) - The number of Russians who will spend the New Year holidays abroad has increased by 10 percent, according to the Russian Association of Tour Operators.
According to its Executive Director Maya Lomidze, Thailand, Egypt, India and the United Arab Emirates are the most popular New Year destinations for Russians. Russians who like Alpine skiing will travel to Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. This season will be bad for Israel were foreign tourism didn’t show good dynamics in the aftermath of the recent anti-terror operation, even despite cheaper hotel accommodation and numerous special proposals made by Israeli tour operators.
Egypt is considered to be the most cost-saving destination this season. The demand for it among Russian tourists has increased by 40%. The cost of a New Year tour to Egypt ranged between USD 1,200- USD 1,500. Tours to other destinations cost more than 2,500 euros, Lomidze said. .
For her part, Nadezhda Yefremva, the head of the legal department of the Russian Association of Tour Operators, said that about 550 Russians had applied for legal assistance this year which marks a 30% increase compared to last year.
"Sixty-four percent of these applications deal with cases of fraud and refusals to go on a tour,” Yefremova said. That is why the Russian Association of Tour Operators decided to work during this holiday season so as to be able to give all necessary assistance to tourists who needs it by phone.
In the meantime, the number of Russian tourists who travelled abroad in 2012 has gone up by more than 20 percent, Maya Lomidze, the executive director of the Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR), told a news conference earlier this week.
She said that the number of foreign travelers was expected to reach almost 11 million people in2012.
The outgoing year saw a considerable increase in demand for organized tours. The most popular tours in 2012 cost between USD 1,000 and USD 2,000 compared to an average price ranging between USD 600 and USD 1,200 in 2011, Lomidze emphasized.
She said that the United Arab Emirates had become a breakthrough destination in 2012 which is a good alternative to Egypt. "A 60 percent increase has been witnessed in this segment despite the fact that it’s not so easy to get a visa to the Emirates. Weekly flights have been introduced to this destination this year,” Lomidze went on to say. She expects the dynamics of tourist flows to remain the same in 2013.
Lomidze said that Egypt continued to be a popular destination for the Russians. The number of tours sold to Egypt has gone up by 35%-40%. “The demand for Egypt is quite high for the New Year holiday season,” Lomidze said, adding there had been a 20% increase in demand for destinations like Greece and Thailand.
"There has been a colossal increase in demand for Germany in the tourist sector. The German consulate is very strict. Many tourists were denied visas. They worked badly with individual customers. That is why nobody expected the demand for Germany to be that high,” Lomidze went on to say.
Italy was another European country for which demand was stable this year. Lomidze said that the number of sold tours to Italy, one of the few calm and good quality destinations, had increased by 15%.
Serbia is becoming a new popular destination for Russian travelers. The number of Russians who visited this Balkan country in 2012 has gone up by 26% to reach 28,000 people, Serbia’s National Tourist Organization reports.
A total of 701,000 foreign tourists visited Serbia from January to October this year which is six percent up over the same period last year.
Most foreign tourists come from Italy, Germany and Russia.
Russians prefer going to Belgrade and Novi Sad, the Kopaonik Alpine Ski resort as well as mineral water spas, including Zlatibor, Soko Banja and Vrnjacka Banja.
Many Russians like spending their weekends in Serbia.
Most Russians come to Serbia either on business trips or on health tours.