RUSSIAN outbound to Asia has suffered marginal damage even as the Russian economy absorbs the impact of US and Europe sanctions over the country's role in the annexation of Crimea and political unrest in Ukraine.
Travel consultants in the Philippines and India have reported drops in arrivals from Russia. TTG Asia e-Daily understands a number of major Russian tour operators such as Labirint have gone bankrupt, leaving Russian travellers stranded in destinations and unable to return.
Russian arrivals to the Philippines for the period January to June this year fell 6.6 per cent year-on-year to 17,719 after five months of continuous decline.
Ala Enache, sales executive in charge of the Russian source market, Blue Horizons Travel and Tours, predicted: “I think Russian arrivals (to the Philippines and Asia) will continue to drop this year. The Russians don’t want to travel. They prefer to stay in the country. We really do our best but there are some situations that we cannot change”.
Felise Cruz, marketing manager, Trips Travel, confirmed: “We’re expecting less Russian visitors this year due to the combined effects of the political issues in Ukraine, and the earthquake and super typhoon in Visayas late last year.”
Many Russians visitors were stranded in Boracay after Typhoon Haiyan (TTG Asia e-Daily, November 8, 2014).
India’s beach destination Goa, popular among Russian tourists, has also seen some impact.
Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, said: "Russian tourists account for a large chunk of Goa’s inbound tourism business but due to recent political turbulence, their numbers have definitely started to wane. Over the last couple of months, we have seen a decrease of around 12 -15 per cent year-on-year in the number of Russian tourists to Goa.”
However, Martin Joseph, chairman of Indian Association of Tour Operator, Goa chapter, said: "We are seeing no fall in the arrivals from Russian market. In fact we are expecting an increase of at least 10 per cent in tourist arrivals from Goa in the inbound season starting October."
Elsewhere in South-east Asia, figures tell a different story. Russian arrivals to Thailand between January and June grew 8.7 per cent from 893,297 to 971,127 visitors, while Cambodia welcomed 72,353 Russians during 1H2014, compared to 68,940 during the same time last year, an increase of five per cent.
Additional reporting by Rohit Kaul and Greg Lowe