Outbound Russian tourism recovering but destinations have changed

Outbound Russian tourism recovering but destinations have changed
Outbound Russian tourism is recovering fast but the choice of destination has changed, with Asia, Africa and the Middle East all making big gains and trips to Cuba up 16-fold. / bne IntelliNews
By Ben Aris in Berlin August 30, 2023

Outbound Russian tourism is recovering fast, the choice of destination has changed since the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and sanctions.

Compared to the previous summer, Russian holidaymakers are increasingly opting for the countries of the Near and Middle East, diverging from traditional European routes.

Additionally, Africa has witnessed a surge in Russian visitors, with Egypt returning to the top five destinations and Tunisia experiencing a remarkable 3.5-fold increase in the number of travellers, Vedomosti reported on August 29.

During the period from June 1 to August 25, the volume of Russian tourists venturing abroad has surged by 17% in comparison to the same period in 2022. These findings were drawn from an analysis of anonymised data from roaming subscribers conducted by experts at MegaFon.

Turkey, often referred to as Türkiye, remains the foremost favourite among Russians. This year the nation welcomed a notable 27% more tourists than the previous summer. However, the burgeoning demand for the "eastern" route can't solely be attributed to Turkish allure. The United Arab Emirates has managed to attract 37% more Russian visitors, even amidst daytime temperatures soaring to 40 degrees in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Alongside these two destinations, the Near and Middle East has captured the attention of Russian travellers, enticing them towards vacations in Iran (a staggering +115%) and Saudi Arabia (+123%). In terms of overall tourist numbers, this region has now outpaced European countries.

Concurrently, Europe has observed a rise in incoming tourists, though the increase is more modest compared to the broader growth in Russian foreign travel, standing at 15%. Noteworthy growth spots for summer sojourns in this continent include Italy (+43% compared to summer 2022), Spain (+36%), France (+33%), Germany (+33%) and Greece (+25%). Despite the overall trend towards European travel, these nations still rank in the top 10 choices for Russian holidaymakers.

Africa has witnessed a striking uptick in Russian interest. Egypt has experienced a substantial surge, attracting 176% more Russian tourists this summer. Last year, the country occupied a modest 7th place in terms of popularity among Russian travellers. However, this year's 2023 season has catapulted it back into the top 5 favoured foreign holiday destinations. Another blossoming African destination is Tunisia, which welcomed 3.5 times more Russian tourists.

The allure of Asian tourism has intensified, with a robust increase of 39.4% in outbound travel. This growth primarily stems from elevated enthusiasm for destinations such as, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Indonesia. Cumulatively these countries have witnessed a fourfold increase in the number of Russian tourists compared to the previous summer.

Russian travellers have also begun to explore the realms of Latin America. The flow of tourists to Cuba has escalated sixteen fold in comparison to the previous year's season, while Venezuela has seen an uptick of over four times.

Simultaneously, experts at MegaFon have noticed a decline in interest among Russian tourists for island getaways. Both the Dominican Republic and the Maldives have experienced waning appeal for travellers from Russia, with respective decreases of 15% and 8% compared to 2022.