Russian tourists showed a willingness to travel last year when the pandemic was still causing mass uncertainty. Their spending power helped aid the recovery of many international destinations as travel started to re-open last summer.

Western sanctions have made it impossible for Russians to travel to many of their preferred destinations this summer. This will leave a significant void for many countries and tourism companies that benefitted from Russian tourism expenditure prior to the conflict.

The importance of the Russian source market

According to GlobalData , Russia was the fifth ranked country globally in terms of international departures in 2021, with 13.7 million. Additionally, travelers from this nation spent a total of $22.5bn in 2021, which put Russia in the top 10 globally for total outbound tourist expenditure. These figures show the importance of Russia as an international source market for tourism, and one which will be sorely missed by many destinations that are now not accessible to Russians.

Destinations and tourism companies may feel the impact of a lack of Russian visitation in the coming months as summer approaches in the northern hemisphere. According to GlobalData, in 2021, almost 20% of all outbound and domestic trips in Russia occurred in the months of June and July. The start of summer usually marks an influx of Russian travelers to warm European sun and beach destinations. However, this will not be the case for many nations that usually welcome Russian tourists every year, which will not do their post-COVID-19 recovery timelines any favors.

Fall in Russian visitation will create a significant impact for some destinations

Italy and Cyprus have proven to be popular destinations for Russian tourists. However, with the EU banning Russian aircraft from operating in its airspace, these nations will be receiving hardly any Russian tourists this summer. Both countries were in the top five in terms of most visited nations by Russians in 2021, meaning they will likely feel the economic pinch of a fall in Russian visitation.

When looking at Cyprus, Russian visitation accounted for 6% of total inbound trips within Cyprus’ top 10 inbound source markets. Although this percentage is not overwhelming, it makes Russia an important source market for Cyprus. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer Survey, 61% of Russians stated that they typically undertake sun and beach trips, which means Russians will especially be missed by Cyprus’ popular coastal areas, such as Limassol.

Although just Italy and Cyprus have been mentioned above, the near elimination of Russian tourists traveling to the EU this summer will impact tourism demand across Europe. As a result, post-COVID-19 recovery timelines for many destinations will be extended due to the loss of a major source market.