Published on : Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Almost half of these travelers are expected to come from routes that were thought of recently – connecting flights between Europe and Asia, boosted by swift growth in tourism from China.
The weak ruble, currently trading at 62 to the dollar, less than half its value five years ago has made Russia one of the top three destinations globally for Chinese tourists. “The ruble devaluation after 2014, Moscow’s efforts to simplify the process for Chinese tour groups to get visas together and active marketing by Russian tourism firms have contributed to the trend,” said Alexander Gabuev, chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
“Russia has also allowed more flights from regional Chinese air companies toMoscow, which helps turn the Russian capital into an air hub for Europe-bound Chinese tourism,” Gabuev added.
In spite of criticism from Russia’s Culture Ministry that Chinese tourists are overcrowding popular St. Petersburg tourist sites, their big spending makes the Chinese tourists an attractive proposition. An average Chinese tourist spends $700 on a trip to Russia.
Sheremetyevo, Moscow’s largest airport, is looking to capitalize on this growth. Signs and announcements are in Mandarin throughout, while duty-free stores accept popular Chinese payment methods, including UnionPay cards and online systems WeChat Pay and Alipay.
More than 2.3 million Chinese tourists flew into Sheremetyevo in 2019, including 1.26 million transferring via the airport. Sheremetyevo expects the number to grow by 30 percent per year in the years to come.