The Georgian separatist republic of Abkhazia was the second most popular destination for Russian tourists in the first half of this year, attracting 1.75mn Russian visitors, according to a report from tourism agency Turstat.
Abkhazia is officially still seen as part of Georgia under international law, but has been de facto independent since the early 1990s, and was controversially recognised as an independent state by Russia in 2008, shortly after the 5-day war between Russia and Georgia over another breakaway republic, South Ossetia. Both receive financial and military support from Russia.
In terms of popularity among Russian tourists, Abkhazia saw a 5% increase in arrivals, putting it second only to Turkey, which attracted 2.28mn Russians, up 40%. Other popular destinations included Finland, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and China.
The tiny, largely unrecognised, republic was known as the Soviet Florida in the communist years, and has a Black Sea coastline of around 200 km — almost two-thirds of Georgia’s coastline.
The same study shows that Georgia (excluding the two separatist republics) received only 483,000 Russian tourists during the six-month period, while a further 189,000 visited South Ossetia.