Podcast “Learned something again”: Where the Russians (can) go on vacation this summer

Sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine dampen the Russians’ desire to travel. Money is scarce, planes are being confiscated, western airspace is closed. However, popular holiday countries, such as Turkey, use unusual means to attract people to an important source of money.

Summer is here. This is also the main holiday time for Russians. But traveling is not so easy for them this year. On the one hand, it is sanctions for the Russian offensive war in Ukraine that are hitting the Russian economy hard. Inflation is gaining momentum, making everything more expensive. VEB’s research and valuation institute expects many people to fall into poverty.

“Sanctions are already evident in people’s daily lives,” says Marco Gardini. Holidays are not the focus of the Russian middle class, explains tourism professor at Kempten University of Applied Sciences in the ntv podcast “They’ve learned something again” – not just because they may not have the money to travel. “It’s more of a psychological question whether I want to go on holiday to Russia or abroad at this time,” explains Gardini. Especially in European holiday destinations, supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin are unlikely to be welcomed at this time.

Recreational opportunities away from home are limited for the Russians after the attack on Ukraine. There is currently no air traffic between Moscow and the EU and other European countries due to Western sanctions. Eleven airports in southern Russia are currently closed due to an offensive war against Ukraine. People with disabilities include the Black Sea resort of Anapa, Rostov-on-Don and the city of Krasnodar. If you want to fly abroad from Russia, you have to come to terms with long and expensive detours.

Traveling abroad is not very common

In addition, airlines can no longer obtain spare parts for their Airbus or Boeing aircraft. “Many aircraft, including those from Russian airlines, are leased from Western companies. Once they leave Russia, they are kept on the ground. Ultimately, these are assets that are then subject to sanctions. These aircraft remain on the ground. In this respect, air traffic is extremely “The restrictions also apply to land transport to Ukraine, the south and the Black Sea coast.” The infrastructure in the rest of the Russian Federation is still intact. “

In early March, the Kremlin, according to the Russian news agency Tass, advised the Russians to refrain from “unofficial trips” abroad. However, even in “normal” times, only a relatively small proportion of Russians travel to other countries, says Marco Gardini: only 20 percent. For the Germans, it is almost 80 percent. This year, only eight percent of Russians plan to spend their holidays in other countries, Tass said.

According to Gardini, a third, 30 percent, leave in their country, many also stay at home. The Kremlin, which partially reimbursed the cost of domestic travel, may have played a role in this. Inland, the Russians like to go, among other things, to the annexed Crimean peninsula.

Turkey counts on Russian tourists

“Beach holidays are the main reason for the travel of a large part of the Russian population,” says Gardini. Popular destinations include Thailand, Indonesia, China and Sri Lanka. If it didn’t go that far, the Russians headed for the Black Sea coast or Turkey. “Turkey has an extremely large proportion of Russian guests and it is said that according to Turkish sources, Turkey lacks almost five million visitors from Russia plus two million from Ukraine this year. They are, of course, relatively hard hit.”

Last year, most holidaymakers in Turkey came from Russia, 19 percent. In second place with 12.5 percent were guests from Germany, the third largest group consisted of Ukrainians with 8.3 percent. In Turkey – in addition to the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates – the least restrictions apply to Russian tourists.

Turkey is in economic crisis and urgently needs income from tourism. Therefore, the country is trying to attract Russian tourists to the country again this year. Turkish Airlines offers more flights between the two countries. And Turkey has specially set up a new charter airline, Southwind, with five planes to commute back and forth between Russia and Turkey.

Not all holiday countries advertise Russian tourists

In addition, Russian tourists can easily pay in the country with their Russian credit card “Mir”. They are accepted by several Turkish banks. Otherwise, Russian Visa and Mastercard cards no longer work abroad because US credit card providers have terminated their services to customers in Russia.

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The “Mir” card is already used by more than 100 million people. Russians can pay and withdraw money with him in other popular holiday countries – such as Vietnam, Thailand and Cyprus. Apart from Turkey, Cyprus also expects that tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian holidaymakers will not stay in Ukraine this year due to the war. Bulgaria also has similar problems.

Not many holiday countries can afford to accommodate Russian tourists, Gardini says in a podcast. Few countries can make concessions, for example in terms of price, after a two-year pandemic. “In addition, the Russian guest is not really the main target group in most destinations, or these countries have expanded their target group orientation and in this case the Russians can to some extent economically compensate for the failure of a specific target group.”

The oligarchs in the Mediterranean are missing

Many Mediterranean countries are also looking for a replacement for Russian vacationers, especially in the luxury segment. The oligarchs spent many years resting on the Italian and French shores of the Mediterranean, where they owned or owned real estate and yachts before attacking Ukraine. On the Côte d’Azur, trade with Russians accounts for seven percent of annual sales, the Regional Tourism Association told Handelsblatt. If they didn’t come this year, they would lose about 200 million euros.

“These aspiring destinations of the Russian upper class or the super-rich, such as the Côte d’Azur or Switzerland, Italy, St. Moritz, Kitzbühel, Marbella, are also known there. You will certainly expect a reduced income,” says Marco Gardini. Fewer oligarch yachts have also been seen on Saint-Barth Island in the Caribbean, popular with super rich and celebrities.

They are currently hauling their luxury yachts to safety in Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, “because there are fears that sanctions will then make these assets available.”

Most Russians are likely to take a holiday in their country this year, if at all. Hotels are already preparing for other guests. But not all travel destinations are possible here either. For example, on the popular Crimean peninsula, a third of accommodation is likely to remain closed in the summer. Hotels are preparing for 30 to 40 percent fewer guests, writes the Moscow newspaper Kommersant. It is not easy to get to the Crimea now, there are not enough train tickets. Airplanes are not allowed to fly there. In case of doubt, the holiday remains in your own cottage.

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You can listen to all episodes of “Wieder was Lern” in the ntv application and wherever there are podcasts: Audio Now, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. With RSS feed also in other applications.

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