SIMFEROPOL, February 15. /TASS/. Crimea expects around six mln tourists in 2018, regional Tourism Minister Vadim Volchenko said on Thursday.
In 2017, the number of tourists visiting Crimea slid back 3.2% to 5.39 mln (compared to 5.6 mln in 2016), once the Russian government had lifted its ban on charter flights to Turkey. In 2016, a total of 4.6 mln tourists travelled to Crimea.
"We expect around six million (tourists). I hope that the actual number will prove to be even larger, but I think that specific estimates will be possible to make in May," Volchenko said.
According to Chairman of the Crimean Parliament’s Tourism Committee Alexei Chernyak, after the refurbished Simferopol International Airport and the Kerch Straight Bridge are opened, the tourist inflow to Crimea is expected to surge.
"This year, a new airport will be opened and the passenger traffic is expected to increase… Once it reaches full operational capacity, the number of tourists will rise… Besides, the [Crimea] Bridge is also planned to be opened to traffic this year… which will lead to an increase in tourist traffic," Chernyak said.
That said, in his view, based on the current transport atmosphere, Crimea is capable of receiving 5 mln to 5.6 mln tourists a year. "Our airport and ferry service just won’t manage a larger number of visitors," the Crimean tourism minister explained.
Volchenko, in turn, added that cutting tour prices could positively affect the peninsula’s tourism industry. "Our hoteliers should review prices that need to be fine-tuned… We must make an announcement that Crimea is slowly reducing high-season prices," he added.