While Russia’s outbound tourism industry took a tumble following the economic and political crises in recent years, there are hints of a silver lining emerging from the gloom, according to Russian buyers at the PATA Travel Mart.
Pointing to the stabalising Russian ruble, Artem Alekseev, CEO of Ros Business Travel, said there has been at least a 10 per cent recovery in his business this year compared with 2015.
He said: “There are still a lot of people who want to spend time and money travelling out of the country and we see that the economic situation is becoming more stable now, which gives Russians confidence to travel again.”
According to Alekseev, Thailand, Vietnam and India are key destinations in Asia that his travellers are considering again.
Likewise for Viacheslav Akaevich, director of Russia-based Samolet, who has seen business returning over the past six months, he said: “There are signs that our people want to travel again and of course we hope the situation will get better. It is already a good sign to see the currency becoming stable.”
Akaevich shared that 30 per cent of his most selling destinations are in Asia, with a majority in Thailand and Indonesia – especially beach destinations like Phuket and Bali.
Hence, he is hopeful to discover new beach spots in Asia to raise greater interest among Russian travellers.
Meanwhile, the Russian outbound luxury travel market appears more resistant to the shocks.
Julia Lukyanova, director of sales in Corona Travel Russia, said: “It was the middle-class travel segment that was killed the most. The upper premium class are still travelling and in fact this market even grew by five per cent, while the middle class one dipped by 35 per cent in 2014.”
Nonetheless, tweaks have been made to their itineraries.
She shared: “Of course there have been some cost considerations so these luxury clients have reduced their accommodation from five- to four-star hotels, and reduced their length of stay from 14 to 10 days.”
Highlighting the importance of Russian outbound travellers, Lukyanova said: “The Russians are good clients because they spend a lot of money and they are still travelling – they should not be forgotten.”
Lukyanova said that the Maldives, Malaysia and South Korea are her top three selling destinations, and added that improved air connectivity and visa-free regimes will be key factors to encourage travel.
Svetlana Kamenkova, leading specialist of corporate and business travel department in Luxe Travel Russia, said cost remains the top priority for her clients, and exotic experiences in Asia like Bali and Lombok are products she is keen to consider promoting again.
While her business has remained “steady with no major collapse”, she said: “We are hopeful that travel will pick up and increase again.”