Chinese tourism to Russia surging

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Nearly 100,000 trips were recorded over January-March 2024, according to an industry report

Russia saw a surge in foreign tourism in the first quarter of 2024, with almost 219,000 arrivals recorded, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR). Chinese tourists accounted for almost half of this figure.

The report shows that overall foreign tourist arrivals to the country more than tripled compared to the same period of last year.

Chinese citizens accounted for nearly 100,000 tourism-related trips in January-March 2024, according to ATOR. In 2023 as a whole, a total of almost 200,000 such visits were recorded.

“In the first half of last year, mainly business tourists traveled from China to Russia. But from the end of last year and in the first quarter of 2024, there were more sightseeing tourists from China in Russia,” the association noted.

The top five countries in terms of tourist trips to Russia also included Turkmenistan, Türkiye, Germany, and the UAE.

China was Russia’s largest source of tourists from the early 2000s until the beginning of the pandemic, thanks to a visa-free regime for tourist groups. However, this was suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions. Visitors from China have also topped the ranking of spending on tourism-related activities among foreigners traveling to Russia.

The resumption of the visa-free program for groups, as well as the launch of an e-visa service between the two countries, was cited as contributing to the growth of Chinese tourism to Russia last year.

ATOR’s vice president for inbound tourism, Aleksandr Musikhin, said recently that the number of tourists coming to Russia may rise significantly in 2024 thanks to the introduction last year of electronic visas and growing demand from Asia.

The Russian Ministry of Economic Development is seeking to boost the number of inbound tourists to 16 million by 2030. They are expected to come from 17 priority countries in the Middle East and Asia.

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