Dear Partners,

The Arabian Travel Market was back with vengeance, it was so great to see so many of our partner and clients in such a dynamic and positive atmosphere. It was also fantastic to see our friends from Central Asia and the Caucasus with increasingly sophisticated stands and Azerbaijan and Georgia with a strong brand presence. Tourism outside of the conflict zone, certainly looks very positive with a large increase in flight connectivity between the CIS countries and Europe, as well as the Middle East. The most impressive destination was Saudi Arabia which made a huge splash with an impressive stand along with other GCC countries. Direct connections between Russia and Saudi are pending, they will no doubt greatly support the entry of this new destination to the Russian market, due to the lack of competition from traditional destinations.

Aeroflot has launched a number of international flights to Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and Turkey. Flight connectivity is key to success in the Russian market, due to the lack of international carriers flying to Russia and the closure of the European Air space. The has also been an overall increase in the costs of international travel, mainly due to the increase in cost of international flights. This is likely to impact Middle Class Russians, but not the premium segment.  However, the recovery of the Russian Ruble to a 5-year high is helping to reduce this effect.

According to the Russian border guards, 3.8 million people departing, Russia, which is noteworthy when you consider only around 4.5 million departed from 2000 to 2020. Most Russians, who were in a hurry to leave, went to nearby countries that do not require a visa to enter. During the first quarter of 2022, 38 000 people left for Georgia, Armenia which promoted itself as an attractive destination for IT companies, attracted 134,000, but Kazakhstan accepted the largest number with 205,000. Other countries which are popular for Russian relocation are Turkey, Germany, Spain and Latvia.

Concerning the CIS countries, they are mainly recovering well, with Kazakhstan looking to be one of the most attractive market due to the dynamic economic situation and a Premium segment which is wealthy enough to replace some of the premium segment from Russia and Ukraine who previously holidays in Southern Europe during the summer. Both Kazakhstan and Georgia have seen a dynamic recovery in flight connectivity as well as Azerbaijan and the Baltic States.

Helene Lloyd

27 May 2022, Moscow

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