Russia-Turkey: there and back
The holiday season is at its peak, and Turkey is still most popular vacation destination among Russian tourists because of its all inclusive system, inexpensive resorts and visa-free entry. According to the Russian Travel Industry Union's president Sergey Shpilko, "Turkey is the top travel destination for Russians. That's because of culture, magnificent nature and the all inclusive system. This is a very attractive model, which kind of symbolizes the consumer dream of communism. The Soviet Union failed to build communism, but Turkey was able to realize it in this form."
However, Turkish tourists are also happy to visit Russia. "There is a perception that tourist relations between Russia and Turkey is a zero-sum game. From 2010 to 2013, which is three years, the tourism flow from Turkey to Russia grew from 197,000 to 385,000 people. It doubled in just three years! Then Turkey became the fourth country by the number of tourists visiting Russia. Then there was an aggravation of political relations, and in 2016, the tourism flow fell to 120,000, and Turkey moved to the 12th place. But last year it had increased one and a half times - up to 180 thousand. This is the 11th place. And now there is strong travel demand in Turkey. Turkish tourists are quality ones - they stay in nice hotels, spend a lot, leave for a weekend away, including with families, book excursion tours," Sergey Shpilko said.
However, he noted that a larger inflow of Turkish tourists to Russia is hampered by the visa regime: "The tourist flow from Turkey has grown to a large extent thanks to the visa-free regime, but now we have a unilateral visa-free regime on the part of Turkey. In terms of the hospitality industry, we need visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as well."
Shpilko also stressed that Turkey plays a big role as Russia's strategic partner, not only in terms of tourist flow, but the entire tourism industry: "Turkish investors (especially construction companies) remain one of the largest investors in Russia, including in Moscow. Half of the travel companies work with Turkish participation. These are companies that not only send tourists to Turkey and places around the world in general, but also to Russian resorts."