Russian holidaymakers have pre-booked a record number of summer vacations in Turkey, breaking pre-crisis records, German tourism company TUI said on January 24.
Early bookings at TUI grew 1.5 times this year compared to last year, while rivals Tez Tour and Pegas Touristik doubled their bookings, Vedomosti reports. The former Soviet era tourist agency Intourist saw bookings increase 5.6 times in the same period.
Russian outbound tourist trips peaked at 42.9mn in 2014, before dropping by 19% and 9% y/y in 2015 and 2016 due to ruble devaluation, geopolitical turmoil, and the closure of the main destinations of Egypt and Turkey.
The boom is partly driven by 20%-30% discounts operators are offering to drum up business in the face of the lower income levels after eight years of crisis. Pre-bookings can command discounts of up to 45%, according to Tez Tour representative Larisa Akhanova, cited by Vedomosti. At the same time new hotels have opened in Turkey that have increased the supply of rooms and kept prices down.
Diplomatic spats between Russia and its two favourite holiday destinations of Turkey and Egypt have hurt Russian outbound tourism. The Kremlin banned flights to both in the last years but the ban on Turkey was lifted last year and a ban on flights to Egypt was rescinded in December.
An average holiday package costs RUB45,000 ($805), or about one month’s wages in one of the larger Russian cities, an increase of about 10% y/y in ruble terms, but the appreciation the ruble over the last year has negated the price increases to some extent.
The strongest growth in bookings is in the budget section with five-star bookings losing out to the growth in 3-4 star bookings as Russians hunt for bargains more actively.
In 2017 3.7 million Russians visited the Antalya coast, which is 38% of the total Turkish tourist flow. That means the Russian market of outbound tourism has returned to pre-crisis levels.