Russian tourists' interest in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is growing
Governmental and legislative circles of Turkey are discussing the possibility of allowing Russians to enter the country using Russian domestic passports. As Interfax reported citing the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Antalya, Davut Cetin, the Chamber of Commerce is lobbying the government in Turkey for a number of measures aimed at restoring the tourist flow from Russia. In particular they are discussing the possibility of paying in Russian rubles in hotels, as well as in retail outlets and for several other services, and not only in resort areas, but on the entire territory of Turkey.
It is not clear whether Turkey will be able to restore the tourist flow from Russia – Russian tourists are actively exploring the domestic market. According to the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), Maya Lomidze, the growth in demand for the domestic market over the past two years is associated with the fact that the ruble has devalued and the average cost is lower than abroad.
However, the cost in Russia is also growing. "Over the past two years we have had pretty serious inflation, and it does not always coincide with the official data, the cost of municipal services for legal entities and for toursim facilities is constantly growing. It often grows exponentially, which, of course, is reflected in the cost of the product," she stressed.
Despite growing prices, budget vacations in Russia are still cheaper. As Lomidze explained, we have large wholesalers: "There were tour operators in the domestic market, but when there is demand there is a completely different interest. And if there is also an extended base of accommodation facilities, the market capacity is large, then a wholesale buyer has an opportunity to influence the price by buying a pre-determined number of rooms at a lower price. That is why budget vacations are cheaper than they are abroad. This summer the cost of a vacation for a week with accommodation in a three star hotel and with breakfast was about 15-18 thousand rubles per person, and that's even during the most popular season. Foreign destinations did not have a single analogue that would provide such a price. Not Greece, not Cyprus, not Poland, not the Baltic states. For the first time in 25 years the cost of an organized budget vacation in Russia was cheaper than abroad."
However, this only applies to budget vacations. "If we talk about higher price category, three+ star hotel, two meals a day, airfare already included tours, then Europe begins to compete with us," Lomidze said.
Speaking about whether Russian tourists are interested in the post-Soviet space, she noted: "Operators are selling more tours to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Belarus is still in the lead, although there is a negative dynamic in comparison to the previous year, because prices there have increased. There is also a huge interest in the Central Asian countries. But it is still very expensive. Out of all the countries of the former Soviet Union with the exception of Belarus, the South Caucasus demonstrates the most balanced price-performance ratio. That is why the demand for this region is increasing, the volume of transportations is increasing, leading to price reductions. While a positive dynamic still exists, if flights to these regions will become more expensive there will be a huge drop in demand."