Belarus in top three holiday spots popular with Russians

Belarus in top three holiday spots popular with Russians
Russians most particularly flocked to Belarus while charter holiday flights to Turkey were banned given political rows with Ankara.
By bne IntelliNews August 15, 2017

Belarus is in the top three spots popular with Russian tourists, according to Yandex.Money, which analyzed the countries the Russians went to for their holidays this summer and how much they spent while on vacation.

The country placed third on the list of the most popular and budgetary sound travel destinations for Russians, BelTA reports.

Turkey returned to the top of the table, given that the Kremlin-imposed ban on holidays to Turkey was removed earlier this year after a rapprochement with Ankara.

Turkey’s tourism revenues increased by 8.7% y/y to $5.41bn in the second quarter of the year as foreign tourists, especially Russian visitors, started to return to the country to spend their holidays.

However, the Russian holiday ban hurt the Turkish economy badly. It is expecting a total loss of $30bn from the reduction of business as a result rows with Russia and the EU and anxieties generated by terrorist attacks and the country's woes under the ongoing state of emergency.

During the ban, Belarus briefly soared to become the most popular tourist destination for Russians. Falling real incomes also prompted Russians to look for cheap summer holiday destinations.

Belarus is trying to encourage more visitors and in February softened visa requirements for citizens of dozens of countries as part of a five-day visa free regime. This month the period for visa-free entry was extended to 10 days. The visa-free regime includes visa-less entry for European Union (EU) citizens and was implemented unilaterally.

The decision provoked protests by Moscow as there is an open border between Belarus and Russia, but Russia has maintained its strict visa policy. Some 4,200 visitors made use of the visa-free regime in the first month of operation.

However, now Russian real disposable incomes are rising again for the first time in years since June, the first thing Russians are choosing to spend their spare money on is a better holiday.

Other countries in the top 10 destination chart are Spain, Thailand, Germany, Poland, Greece, Finland and, somewhat bizarrely, Ukraine, despite the fact that Russia is in an undeclared war with that country.

The average spend of Russian tourists was recorded as lowest in Russia, followed by Ukraine and Belarus. Russian tourists spent most freeely during holidays in Germany and Thailand, according to Yandex.Money.