The May holidays are always like a rehearsal before the summer season. I heard that almost all the national resorts were marked by a price drop. Even Sochi taxi drivers have significantly reduced prices. This is true?
Maya Lomidze: The May holidays sold better than expected after the well-known events. Of course, the tour operators were afraid that they might be a flop. But this did not happen, and the negative expectations, fortunately, were not fulfilled.
But because 11 airports were closed, the flow of tourists was lower than last year. Even in Sochi, the only open-air port in the south, the May holidays were spent by 10 percent fewer vacationers than the previous year.
In Anapa, according to our data, there was a decrease in the tourist flow by 25 percent compared to 2021, in Gelendzhik even more so – by almost 40 percent. The main stopping factor was problems with transport links. For many it was difficult to get to the accommodation, despite the operators adjusting and organizing bus tours. And relatively cheap.
Therefore, in order not to lose customers, all the resorts reacted to the drop in demand by lowering prices. At the same time, if the price tags of accommodation facilities have been revised, flights, on the contrary, have risen in price. So, in Sochi, tickets in May increased in price by an average of 30 percent. And the flight time has almost doubled. According to tour operators, these two factors played a significant role in the dynamics of hotel reservations at the resort.
How are the summer reservations going now?
Maya Lomidze: Reservations for July-August are not very active. Many are waiting for the opening of airports. The success of the season will largely depend on it.
Assuming that the situation remains the same as now, and that 11 air ports are closed, the tourist flow will most likely be less than last summer.
In Russia or in Turkey: where will it be cheaper to relax this summer?
Maya Lomidze: It’s cheaper in Russia, of course! Because, despite the closure of airports and the increase in the price of tickets to Sochi, the possibilities of accessibility of transport in our country are still greater now than even on accessible foreign routes. For comparison, in June, a week of rest in a three-star Turkish hotel will cost about 60 thousand rubles, in our resort – 35 thousand rubles.
Maya Lomidze: This summer it is cheaper to rest in Russia than in Turkey. Photo: RIA Novosti
It is believed that this year in the trend of the sanatorium. This is true?
Maya Lomidze: Yes. In the last two years, the demand for spa vacations has grown. The pandemic has played an important role: many have revised their attitude towards health. This year, another factor has been added: in particular, for the May holidays, people often do not choose even a sanatorium. The demand has grown in those regions where it is hot, where you can get there and there is a good accommodation base; it turns out that in some regions it is a sanatorium base. For example, during the May holidays, the Kavminvod resorts broke all records. There was an increase in vacationers compared to last year. The last role was not played by the fact that the Minvoda airport was not closed. As the May holidays showed, four- and five-star hotels were better booked and more actively sold than the average price segment. For people with above-average incomes, expensive tickets were not a problem. This situation is typical for both the Caucasus Mineral Waters and the Krasnodar Territory.
Wellness holidays are the second most popular among Russians. Where do they go to improve their health besides sanatoriums in Kavminvody and the Krasnodar Territory?
Maya Lomidze: Despite a slight decrease in the number of tourists, health centers in the Kaliningrad region are in demand. Traditionally, there is a great demand for sanatoriums in the Altai Territory, Bashkiria. In the May holidays, resorts near megacities were popular – these are the Leningrad and Moscow regions. I am sure that in the summer holidays in these regions it will be of interest to many.
Among my friends there are many who want to relax in the Caspian Sea. Can it compete with the Black Sea this summer?
Maya Lomidze: The North Caucasus has broken records in terms of popularity since last year. In 2021, a 20% increase in tourist traffic was observed. I think this year will be the same dynamic. Because it is a very diverse party. Charters provide an opportunity to reduce the cost of a trip and get a tour package ready to go when they accompany you everywhere. There are many resorts in Dagestan, both on the sea and in the mountains. Here you can relax on the beaches of the Caspian Sea, go on a mountain hike, admire rivers, lakes and waterfalls!
But the Caspian Sea has its own characteristics: last year, the Dagestan Rospotrebnadzor banned swimming due to water pollution. But you can sunbathe on the golden sand beach. The Caspian is unlikely to be third (after the Black Sea and the Baltic) in popularity as a seaside holiday, but the prerequisites for this season are very good.
What other charter programs launched this year by Rostourism could you highlight and recommend?
Maya Lomidze: From the Far East to the Caucasus, tour operators with the support of Rostourism have launched charter programs for every taste and budget.
Sakhalin stands out. This is an absolutely exotic and unforgettable adventure. Our Far East can hardly be compared with anything at all.
If you choose a charter tour to Tyumen or Tobolsk, you will experience all the delights of Siberia, although the region belongs to the Ural Federal District. Among the places to visit in the region, I will highlight, perhaps, the hot springs.
New charter flights have also been launched, connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg with Kazan. This is an affordable package product that will appeal to city vacation lovers.
What about cruise ships? I’ve heard that some pre-planned cruise trips are being phased out. This is true?
Maya Lomidze: I don’t see any problem with cruise ships. In fact, this is such a specific product. But it is very reversible. People who like such a calm and unhurried vacation on the river, as a rule, choose it from year to year. And we can say that they are recruiting associates from their inner circle. Traveling in company is more fun. It is also suitable for families with children. The child is always in front of our eyes, supervised and busy with animators. Cruise travel is also often chosen by people who do not want to bother and think about the route, how to get from one point to another.
This type of vacation is not cheap, but it is worth it, because “all inclusive”. For 60-80 thousand you get a very rich tourist product, and then there is always something to remember.
I would especially highlight the expedition cruises on the Yenisei, which began last year. This is a fantastic adventure! Not in vain is it called an expeditionary, because during stops tourists are invited to visit natural areas and reserves. And here are the views! And Yenisei himself has little to compare with. Obviously, this is an expensive product – the minimum cost of the tour is 300 thousand rubles.
Maya, can you name the main features of the 2022 summer season?
Maya Lomidze: First, the low depth of sales, because many are waiting, even waiting for the opening of airports in our Black Sea regions. And so they plan trips at the last minute. If in a pandemic they booked, as a general rule, three weeks in advance, now on average a maximum of two.
Second, summer vacations will be affected by a drop in the population’s income and a change in priorities. If we talk about people with average incomes, they understand that the economic situation will change and, perhaps, it makes sense to spend money not on a trip, especially if it is not cheap, but on saving and buying something necessary. And travel by car.
And finally, our analysts point out that this summer the most popular will be trips in your own car, but not too far from home. The sea continues to be, of course, the main magnet for the inhabitants of our northern country. Many aspire to it. But if it is inaccessible due to transportation difficulties and scared by the cost of tickets, people will go to the reservoirs closest to home.
The main characteristic of this season is that everything can change. At any time, in any direction.
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