BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2016/34

Tourism abroad has fallen sharply over the past two years due to the weak ruble and falling real disposable incomes. Imports of travel services last year amounted only to $35 billion, a decline of over 30 % from 2014. The number of tourist trips abroad and the number of passengers on international flights fell nearly 20 % last year. This year, the slide has accelerated due e.g. to restrictions imposed at the end of 2015 on travel to Egypt and Turkey. In the first half of this year, imports of travel services fell nearly 40 % and the number of passengers on international flights declined almost 30 % y-o-y.

Russians have partly replaced trips abroad with domestic trips. The number of domestic travellers in Russian accommodation facilities last year increased 25 % (excluding the impact of Crimea) and the number of passengers on domestic flights rose 14 %. The growth in domestic travelling is expected to continue this year, but at a slower pace. In 1H16, the number of passengers on domestic flights rose 8 % and the volume of accommodation services was up 9 % y-o-y.

The tough economy and rising prices constrain Russian spending also on domestic tourism. Recent surveys found that the share of Russians planning to take no vacation at all or not go anywhere during their vacation is the highest in a decade. The average amount set aside for vacation this year was only slightly more than in 2015, even if prices of tourist services were up 8 % y-o-y in 1H16.   

Russia’s tourism sector employs 1.3 million people. 2015 turnover for the sector was around 3 trillion rubles ($50 billion, 2 % of the total turnover of all companies). Russian tourism sector largely relies on domestic tourists, with foreigners representing only 14 % of travellers in hotel accommodations.