Russian Travel Market
3 June 2020
Russia removes restrictions on domestic tourism
The Russian government has phased out the restrictive measures for domestic tourism from June 1. At the first stage, sanatoriums with a medical license will be opened. In parallel with this, the government is working on rules for the further opening of the tourism industry - hotels, resorts, beaches, cruises. The relevant recommendations are being prepared by Rospotrebnadzor and Rostourism. Earlier, Rospotrebnadzor prepared recommendations for health and wellness institutions (sanatoriums) taking into consideration the continued risks of spreading COVID-19.
Pobeda airlines fully resume domestic operations
Russia’s low-cost airline Pobeda plans to fully resume operations under its summer schedule and to start using its complete fleet by August, the carrier said in a statement. By the end of July, the company plans to increase its route network to 83 destinations.
"In connection with the gradual lifting of restrictive measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infection, the Pobeda low-cost airline is gradually resuming its flight program. The airline began operating flights on May 31 and plans to completely restore the summer schedule by the end of July," the report says.
It also states that "by the end of July, all 30 Pobeda aircraft will fly in 83 declared directions."
On May 31, Pobeda resumed flights after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The carrier made the last flight on April 1. Currently, the low-cost airline sells tickets for 34 domestic destinations on its website. International flights from Russia are currently not carried out.
Russian authorities do not expect international travel to recover soon
On May 25, the Russian Prime Minister asked the Russians to refrain from travelling abroad on holiday, so as not to bring the coronavirus from there back to Russia. He believes that under current conditions, in addition to health risks, there also might be some difficulties in transporting Russia tourists back home, might occur.
The Deputy Prime Minister also said that he sees no prerequisites for a quick recovery of international tourist flows into and out of Russia, and the Federal Tourism Agency noted that the recommendation to travel abroad published on March 19 is still valid.
The Russian authorities are not intending to artificially prevent Russians from travelling abroad, but Russia has not yet received any official information from other counties, that they are ready to accept Russian tourists yet, stated Zarina Doguzova, the Head of Rostourism, on May 28.
Travelling abroad for Russians to resume after Embassies re-open
International travel will be possible again as soon as the Russian authorities open the borders, international airline services are restored and the embassies start issuing visa again. According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, most embassies will open around June 15. The Vice President of the Association noted that it is probably better to plan trips for the third quarter this year. He reminded that the domestic tourism will reopen on June 1, adding that many tourists will opt not to go far away from home in the current situation and there might be a higher prefer apart-hotels.
Chartered air service between Russia and Turkey
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey, however, does not rule out charter flights between Turkey and Russia could be resumed earlier than regular air services. “We want tourists [from Russia and Germany], who would like to come to Turkey on charter flights. Ankara was in talks with various countries, including Russia, on travel-related matters.” Meanwhile, Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism told that tourist flows to Turkey from Russia may drop by 40% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Russian Tour operators Union commented on the statement that currently charters by foreign companies are currently not allowed and Russia has its own capacity to start the charter flights as soon as there is an official approval to operate them.
Russians’ travel plans
In April and early May, many Russian travellers were still hesitant about their future travel, however towards the end of lockdown the desire to travel is increasing. The Russian travel industry is gradually reviving as some domestic resorts started preparation to welcome guests in June.
According to a YES Group poll, 38% of the respondents intend to travel abroad this year and 41% of people are not yet ready to leave Russia, while 28% are not yet ready to travel at all.
This survey corresponds with the results of a recent Ipsos poll, which also shows that in April 68% of Russians were planning their travel abroad no sooner than 6 months after the restrictions are removed, almost 20% were already prepared to travel abroad. Most of the potential tourists who wish to engage in international travel are based in Moscow (21% of the capital’s residents).
“What Russians think about travelling”, the poll was conducted amongst 600 Russian city residents with a population over 100 thousand people, aged 18-65. Source: Yes Group.
The graph shows that 65% of respondents believe that travelling within Russia will be possible from the end of August 2020. 6% – by mid-June, 21% – starting mid-June, 38% – starting late August, 20% – no sooner than late 2020, only 16% believe they will start travelling only from the spring of 2021.
Concerning international travel, 79% of respondents believe that they will be able to travel abroad towards the end of 2020 and later. 1% – by mid-June, 4% – starting from mid-June, 17% – starting in late August, 35% – starting later in 2020, 44% – after Spring 2021.
Aviasales, a Russian airline ticket search engine, states that 96% of all airline tickets sold in May were for domestic flights inside Russia. The main foreign destinations that remain in demand are the so-called “near-abroad” countries: Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Belarus. According to another ticket search engine Tutu.ru, the number of international train tickets sold is now at 3% of the the pre-crisis indicators. Amongst European cities, Minsk is one of the few cities which is still accessible with “Belavia” (Belarus Airlines) which has become the most popular airline among Russians.
60.5% of Russians who bought tickets in April and May believe that they will be able to travel abroad in June not only to the post-soviet countries but also to Bulgaria, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Spain, Italy, China, South Korea, the Netherlands, the USA, and Turkey. Alexey Teplov, the marketing director of OneTwoTrip, also mentioned that Russians continue to buy tickets to Thailand, the USA and the Maldives for Autumn and Winter 2020 and 2021.
For most Russians, the holiday season of 2020 will start late July and August, not in June, as it normally does. The tourism industry will have to adapt to the changes.
Russians are more willing to travel in Russia than abroad. 38% are planning to travel abroad compared to 48% of those who are planning to travel within Russia.
Many tour operators continue to sell tickets to foreign destinations. TezTour states that most of the trips are planned for late summer. If international travel is still impossible then, tourists will have the opportunity to reschedule.
While regular and charter international flights are still not operating, business airlines continue to be available, as they are not considered means of public transport. According to the travel industry and media reports, business jets are now often used to transport small groups of travellers of 10-15 people (as opposed to regular groups of 2-3 people in pre-COVID times), this helps to lower the ticket prices to 2,500€ - 4,500€ per person, but the majority of people who purchase business jet tickets usually have a European passport, a residence permit or a valid long-term Schengen visa.
Border restrictions have also been imposed on cars and pedestrians since March. At the same time, social networks show that Russians often manage to avoid them and manage to enter Belarus by car.
According to a YES Group poll, 26% of respondents are not planning to cut their travel expenses, and 27% stated that will have to reduce their travel budget.40% of respondents have already made changes to travel budgets. 34% – have not yet set a holiday budget, 27% – will save money (17% – by 25% or less), 26% – are planning to cut expenses, 13% – will have to cancel travel for financial reasons.Ђ Back to journal