: Kremlin annexed Ukraine's Crimea loses attraction for Russian tourists

11:06 May. 16, 2016

Kremlin annexed Ukraine's Crimea loses attraction for Russian tourists

Tourists rest on the Black Sea beach in Yalta, Crimea, Aug. 14, 2014 (AP photo)

Travellers prefer to spend their holidays abroad or in Sochi 

After trying to spend a vacation in the annexed Crimea, Russian citizens choose a more developed infrastructure of Sochi - a Russian southern city, ski and sea resort. This is reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant.

Russian travel agencies expect the organized tourism to stop growing in 2017. 

Demand among Russian travellers for flights to the Kremlin-occupied city of Simferopol recently fell by 25% (15 percentage points), according to ticket sellers. The company Svyaznoy.Travel says, in 2015 flights to Simferopol constituted 50% of bookings, whereas in 2016 they fell to 35%.

Commercial Director Andrey Osintsev says the decline was expected. "We predicted this outcome, judging by last year's summer season. The Black Sea peninsula infrastructure does not offer the same quality of service like Turkey and Egypt, where Russians get used to spending their vacations. Many travellers who visited Crimea decided they were not yet ready to choose the peninsula as a destination for their regular holidays."

Other agencies also report on decline in popularity of the annexed Simferopol. According to Biletix, in summer 2016, ticket sales for this direction decreased by 7.5% with a 23% rise in an average bill prices, up to nearly USD 170 (10,800 rubles). But the situation may change, given that the market is characterized by shallow depth of reservation, the company specified.

DaTravel.com reports on a 2% drop in demand for trips to Simferopol. The company's analysts say, popularity of Crimea declined amid the rising demand among Russians for resorts abroad, in neighbouring countries.

Read also Russia continues to detain dozens of Crimean Tatars every day

General director of the tour operator Dolphin Sergei Romachkin said: "By the end of the season we can see a total flow increase by 20-25%."

However, he believes that this year Crimea in any case will reach its growth limits: the peninsula will host 5.8-6 million people, the region is incapable of hosting more people over the summer season due to its (scarce) capacity of accommodation facilities. Sergey Romachkin also associates the slowdown in demand with an air ticket price hike.

Russian officials hoped that tourist demand for Crimea would increase this year, since in 2015 Russian travel agencies stopped selling trips and flights to Turkey and Egypt.

Read also Flight ban deprives Russians of holidays in Egypt: Spillover from the Kremlin's Syria adventure

Yet, according to Sergei Romashkin, only 20% of Russian tourists are ready to choose Russian resorts. And even in this case they prefer going to Sochi which "offers a comparable level of service."

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