Russians show explosive interest in Baku
According to flight statistics compiled by the Russian travel service Tutu.ru from January 1 to June 30, 2017, the top five most popular destinations for Russian tourists were all three capitals of the South Caucasus republics, with Baku showing the strongest growth in the interest of Russians.
Last year, Baku was the number eight, but a 26.4% drop in ticket prices in comparison with the first half of 2016 helped it to take the fifth position. The result is an increase in the popularity of Moscow-Baku flights by 1.6 times.
Yerevan managed to improve its positions in the top five, pushing Minsk down one place: the prices for Moscow-Yerevan flights dropped by 26.6%, which allowed the capital of Armenia to attract 1.2 times more Russian tourists than in the first half of 2016.
Tbilisi retained the fourth place, cutting ticket prices by only 12.3% and showing the growth of the Russian tourist flow of 1.0566 times.
Chisinau remained at the top of the rating.
Thus, the South Caucasus republics showed the possibility of using such a factor as offering cheaper flight tickets to attract Russian tourists, about which the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, Maya Lomidze, said earlier, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza.
"Cheaper tickets is a major niche for tour operators. The first attempt has been made to promote the Gudauri resort: sales were started in the autumn, tour operator bought out blocks of seats, and the price of tickets slightly declined. That is, the experiment showed a positive result. Maybe this and the next year, such programs will be implemented in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, because the interest on the part of these republics in the Russian market is huge, it's a fact," the executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia said.
"Azerbaijan's representation has actively worked in Russia since 2016. They made fam tours for businessmen, organized exhibitions, which demonstrated the benefits of recreation in Azerbaijan, and it has positively affected the demand," Maya Lomidze noted.
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Management and Business at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of RANEPA, Yevgeny Itsakov, in turn, noted that such a significant increase in tourist flow from Russia to the South Caucasus was due to the changing perception of these countries by Russians. "Judging by the current trends, the Caucasian direction of outbound tourism has become fashionable," he explained.
"The active growth of this trend has started with Georgia, then Armenia and Azerbaijan joined in. Azerbaijan always showed good rates in terms of growth of the tourist flow, and Armenia slowed down at some point due to the fact that it does not have a sea. I think that statistics are more influenced by the psychological factor: people have learned that Azerbaijan and Georgia provide very modern conditions for recreation. Azerbaijan is an advanced state with a very beautiful, modern city of Baku, and having learned about this, people have decided to visit it," Yevgeny Itsakov pointed out.