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Travel and tourism in Russia - statistics & facts

As an emerging market and the largest country in the world, spanning two continents, Russia is a particularly intriguing market for the global travel and tourism industry. After hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia increased its popularity among foreign travelers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions had a negative impact on the sector. Approximately 7.1 million international tourists visited Russia in 2021, less than a third of the pre-pandemic figure. The travel and tourism share in the GDP was measured at five percent prior to the pandemic. In 2022, it was forecast at three percent.

COVID-19 impact on Russians' travel destinations

In March 2020, when COVID-19 started to spread in Russia, international flights were suspended, and they were resumed only with several countries from the summer of 2020. Thus, the majority of Russians spent their vacations in the country in that year. The Krasnodar Krai on the Black Sea was the most popular summer travel destination in 2020. Other attractive tourist spots included the Republic of Crimea annexed in 2014, the two largest cities Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the Caucasian Mineral Waters for medical tourism, and the Lake Baikal for environmental tourism. Travel to most EU countries remained challenging for Russians in 2021 because none of the domestic COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Among international destinations, Turkey maintained its leading position, as over two million Russians visited it with tourism purposes. Furthermore, the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Tanzania gained popularity among the tourists.

Impact of the war in Ukraine on tourism in Russia

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022, several Western countries, like members of the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, and the United States, banned Russian aircraft from their airspaces. In response, the Russian government announced a flight ban for planes from these countries. Among them, one of the travel destinations most dependent on Russian tourism was Germany, with over 552.9 thousand inbound flight seats scheduled between February 24 and August 24, 2022. Several countries, such as Czechia and Estonia, stopped granting visas to Russian citizens, which, together with a nationwide increase in consumer prices, discouraged long-haul travel. As a result, the intention of Russians to travel outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the summer of 2022 saw a decline.

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