Dear Partners,

2020 was certainly a year to remember for the travel industry in Russia and around the world. As a result, we all made great technological innovations and TMI has just been commissioned to organise its 3rd virtual workshop, which is the main way that destinations and hotel groups are communicating with the travel industry during the current pandemic. However flexible and adaptable we have become,  it is also noticeable how many Russian consumers have started to realise the true value of the travel industry in terms of providing information and support to travellers.  Although online bookings will continue to grow, many Russians feel safer travelling under the guidance of their known travel company rather than an international, impersonal booking engine. This may result in the emergence of new category of booking channels that combines a personalised independent consultant who together with the latest technology can manage the most demanding client. A long established phenomena in the USA, it looks like Russia is in the process of developing this B2B segment.

2021 looks like a much more positive year, due to the fast roll-out of the vaccine programme in Russia which already started in early December and the anticipated opening of the Russian borders by April-May 2021 (although there is no official information yet). Once Russia is open for international leisure travel again, we expect that many of them will  take advantage of the summer of 2021 to travel internationally and taking into account  the great pent up demand from 2020, it is likely to make this year into a bumper year for outbound travel.

Helene Lloyd

20 January 2021, Moscow

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