The weakening of the rouble has helped Russia to attract more tourists, according to a report in the Kommersant newspaper on Tuesday.
Data from the Russian Tourism Industry Union show the number of tourists visiting Russia has increased by 13% in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period in 2014. In total, foreign tourists made 2.54 million trips to Russia between January and September this year, which is the highest amount since 2008, the report said.
Chinese tourists became the largest group of foreign tourists to Russia in the first nine months of the year, accounting for 22.9% of the total amount of foreign travellers visiting Russia, according to data from the Russian Tourism Industry Union.
Germany came in second with 12.6%t of the total number of visits followed by the U.S. with a 6% share and Turkey, accounting for 4.6% of the total number of tourists. Vladimir Kantorovich, first vice president of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, attributes the growth of the number of tourists visiting Russia to the weakening of the rouble, which lost more than 40% of its value against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of last year.
Russia became a very cheap destination for many tourists, Kantorovich told the newspaper.
While the number of foreign tourists traveling to Russia is growing, the outbound tourism in Russia has been reeling from the economic recession and poor performance of the rouble.
Oleg Safonov, the head of Russia's federal tourism agency Rostourism, commented to the Tass news agency on Tuesday that tourist flow from Russia fell by 31.4% since the beginning of the year.
Apart from the economic causes, the outbound tourism in Russia has been affected by Russia's recent ban on flights to Egypt imposed after the crash of the Russian passenger plane in the Sinai Peninsula as a result of a terrorist attack, as well as the ban on selling package tours to Turkey after the downing of the Russian warplane near the Syrian border.
In addition, Russia will introduce visa requirements for Turkish citizens starting on Jan. 1, 2016 as part of the sanctions against the country, which can have a negative impact in the development of the inbound tourism in Russia. According to statistics, Turkey represents a significant volume of tourists visiting Russia.
In the first nine months of the year, the number of tourists from Turkey visiting Russia has increased by 15.6%, compared with the same period last year, according to data from the Russian Tourism Industry Union.