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Foreign tourism on the rise in Russia as ruble weakens

Prices for holidays in Russia are declining starting from 2014

MOSCOW, August 16. /TASS/. Russian tour operators mark an increasingly growing interest in holidays in Russian regions among foreign tourists, the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) told a news conference on Tuesday.

"Prices for holidays in Russia have been gradually declining starting from 2014 simply because the ruble is depreciating, and accordingly holidays in the country are cheaper than abroad," Maya Lomidze said.

She also said certain moves were being made over the past 1.5-2 years to attract foreign tourists in Russia. Missions of VisitRussia agency are opened abroad to advance Russian tourism on foreign markets. "Devaluation of the ruble has made it possible to strongly motivate interest in Russian holidays," she said.

"Even in the year 2015 under sanctions, the official statistics shows a sizable growth (in tourism), for example from Spain, demand is not declining in Great Britain and France," Lomidze said. "This shows that sanctions don’t matter much, and people are ready to come here," she noted.

The most frequent destinations are St. Petersburg, Moscow, towns of the Golden Ring (a string of Russia’s oldest towns), as well as the capital city of Tatarstan, Kazan.

"Trailing far behind are Kamchatka, Baikal, the Altai region and Sakhalin," she added.

The authority also marked an increasingly growing demand for Russian holidays on Asian markets, with the biggest number of tourists coming from China and Iran. All other Asian markets, however, also demonstrate a growing demand, she added.

Among the popular destinations she also named Sochi, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

"I know that Chinese and Iranian tourists show the interest," she said. This year, demand for trips to Sochi, St. Petersburg and Moscow has grown about 25% among Iranian tourists year-on-year, Lomidze noted.