Russian Travel Market
1 July 2020
Europe refused to open borders for Russians
The European Union has not included Russia in the list of 15 ‘safe’ countries for which the borders will open on July 1st. Their decision is related to the relatively high rate of new infections of Covid-19 in Russia. “And this is normal, because Russia needs more time, since the virus began to spread actively there later than in European countries,” the source emphasized.
Earlier, other states also temporarily continued to keep their borders closed to Russian tourists, because of the increased threat of the spread of coronavirus in Russia, including both Turkey and Tunisia.
Plans for resumption of international flights
The head of the Federal Air Transport Agency proposed a plan to resume international air traffic in Russia, starting with flights to neighboring countries. At the same time, it plan to renew flights to other states on a case-by-case basis, depending on the covid-19 infection rate in each country. However, the exact date is not clear yet and the final decisions will be made subject to agreements with each country.
On June 29, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with Russia Today was unable to answer a question about the opening of borders that were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The foreign minister said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing the Russian government with real-time information about the situation with coronavirus abroad. At the same time, Lavrov could not name the exact date of the opening of the Russian borders.
British and Greek visa centres opened
The British Visa Application Center in Moscow opened on June 22nd. Registration for new visa applications stated on June 29th.
Greece resumed the issuing visas to Russian tourists in Moscow from June 29. Documents can only be submitted by appointment scheduled online. All other Greek visa centers in Russia have suspended their activities until further notice.
Travel demand grows faster than business predicted
87% of Russian travellers intend to resume travel in the second half of 2020. 65% of them are ready to go on vacation, 21% would like to visit relatives and friends, 7% will have a business trip as stated in a study of the online travel service Biletix, which included almost 2,000 interviews.
“The recovery of travel demand is growing faster than we previously forecasts, airline sales have already recovered up to 25 % of their bookings from same period last year, and train tickets have recovered by 23%. We predicted a recovery of up to 50% of bookings compared to last year's figures only by the end of the year,” said Head of Biletix, Igor Konstantinov.
The declining epidemic had a small positive impact on travel. 80% of tourists planning to travel do not intend to reduce the duration of their trip, 90% of respondents would choose the plane as the most comfortable means of transportation.
However, the actual booking data is a bit different from the stated intentions. The share of airline ticket bookings in June with departure in August – December 2020 amounted to 11% of all tickets booked in June, while last year this figure was 22%. The lead time decreased from 40 to 27 days. The most popular destinations booked for the second half of the year are mainly domestic destinations including: Sochi, Simferopol, Mineralnye Vody, Kaliningrad, as well as Barcelona.
61% will replace Russian resorts with foreign ones if the Russian borders open
Analysts at Yandex.Travel conducted a survey about how people in Russia want to spend summer vacations. The survey results showed what type of vacation Russians choose, where they plan to stay, and if they will go on excursions and visit cafes, and if they will change their vacation plans when the Russian borders open. About 5 thousand people took part in the survey.
Among those planning to travel this summer, the majority (44%) plan a two-week trip, 32% - a week-long vacation, 14% - a three-week trip or even longer, 10% of respondents expect only a few days off. Beach vacations are planned by 55% of respondents, outdoor trips to the countryside by 31%, cultural and historical trips by 14%. 42% of respondents would prefer to stay at a hotel or in a sanatorium, 31% in private accommodation, 15% in a rented apartment, 12% plan to go camping.
45% of respondents do not plan to go on excursions. 26% are willing to go on private excursions. 29% are ready to go on any excursions. 64% of Russians will visit restaurants and cafes during their holidays, 36% will avoid visiting such public places.
Analysts also asked respondents why they want to go on a trip despite the difficult situation. Fatigue and the need to rest (40%) is the key reason. 31% of respondents are tired of staying at home, 20% do not want to change the traditions of annual summer vacation, 9% selected other reasons such as visiting parents or other relatives, changing the climate for a while, showing something interesting to their children.
If the borders open, this will impact on summer vacation plans. In this case, those who originally planned a vacation in Russia, 61% of respondents will go abroad; 39% - will stay in Russai. When asked about the reasons for not going abroad, the respondents answered that it is too expensive (49%), they are afraid to get stuck abroad due to another outbreak of coronavirus (24%), they are afraid of getting sick and left without medical care in a foreign country (22%), they prefer to spend summer holidays in Russia (5%).
Russians tripled their spend on travel in June
According to VTB bank research on travel expenses, Russians have tripled their spend on travel agencies in the first half of June compared to the period of self-isolation. In total, they spent 4.6 million USD, which is almost 3 times higher than in the same period in May and almost 3.5 times higher than in April. A sharp increase was recorded in booking of railway tickets, airline tickets, and hotel bookings.
The total number of bookings in June exceeded 21 thousand, which is 160% higher than in the first half of May and 219% higher than in April. Travel spend increased by +6% compared to April and by +8% compared to May, but almost by 43% lower than the pre-pandemic period. This suggests that Russians still prefer short-haul trips. In the airline segment, the total spend in June increased by 157% compared to May and by 211% compared to April.
However, online booking platform Biletix compared the responses of tourists before and after the epidemic wave about the average cost of travel per family member and found out that the share of travellers willing to spend more than 700 USD per family member had decreased from 45% to 27%, which indicates an overall decrease in spend for some segments of the market.
Russian travellers are ready to cut expenses on accommodation (37%). The share of those willing to save on a transportation increased from 16% to 20%, on the cultural and entertainment programmes from 12% to 22%. At the same time, the share of Russians who are not planning to save on travel decreased from 16% to 7%.
Despite the growth in the number of Russians wishing to travel, 87% of Russian travelers still intend to resume travel in the second half of 2020.65% of them want to go on vacation, 21% would like to visit relatives and friends, 7% will travel for business.
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