How do the Russians typically spend their summers?
Summer holidays at own summer cottage (dacha) or in the country are widespread among the Russians. The own plot of land has become not only fashionable but also pleasant entertainment: many people want to escape from stuffy crowded cities to hole up in the country, enjoy fire in the evening, BBQ and outdoor dining, etc. Fruit-growing and vegetable gardening are one of the most favourite hobbies. The Russians also adore all types of activities connected with nature (fishing, picking of mushrooms and berries). During the crisis, those who have dacha become more active and garden more eagerly, make provisions, thus saving on shop products, which have become more expensive.
Russians like also to spend beach holidays in the Russian Black Sea resorts where there are lots of health resorts, children camps and a wide choice of accommodations of various price categories for families with children and for other categories.
Also travelling around Russia is popular. This includes short trips on public holidays or at weekends, because it is cheap and does not require long planning.
However, the most preferred option would be beach holidays abroad, which some people like to combine with sightseeing programs. According to numerous opinion polls, only lack of money is the main reason why people reject outbound tourism. Russians consider in general that the quality of vacations abroad is much higher than in the home country because it covers all factors: the climate is better abroad, the nature is richer, the accommodations are fairly priced and more comfortable, the safety is higher and the catering is more varied.
What are the key drivers for summer travel to Finland from Russia?
First of all, the rouble stabilization. Then there is the put-up demand effect: Russian tourists are tired of waiting and saving on vacations.
Big asset for Finland is its direct neighbour location and extensive transport network, including the possibility of travelling by own car from Russia to Finland. In addition, the ticket prices to Finland are lower than to other European countries.
There is also the opportunity to have an interesting and cheap short vacation by going to Finland over the weekend including leisure time, sightseeing, outdoor activities and shopping.
Good thing is as well that the procedure of getting visa to Finland is one of the easiest among the Schengen visas.
By the end of June 2017, the outbound flow from Russia increased by 28.9% compared with the same period of 2016 and reached 17 million trips abroad. Finland (1.54 million trips, +21.8%) was the third in the list of the most popular destinations.
Are there some specific activities or interests that are trending now on the Russian market?
The Russians currently apply for and receive foreign passports more frequently: since the beginning of 2017, the number of such people has increased by more than a half, which the experts connect with the simplified procedure as well as strengthening of the rouble. However, according to official statistics, about 70% of the Russians do not have foreign passports and have never been abroad.
In summer 2017, the experts of Ipsos Comcon Research Company published the results of the research according to which within the last 12 months the wealthy Russian tourists spent 100 000 RUB (1 450 EUR) on average on one foreign trip. Last year, the majority of the respondents (69%) used the services of travel agencies to arrange their trips. Top-3 destinations of the independent wealthier tourists include Germany, Spain and Finland.
According to the experts, the primary trend is the increase of the interest among the Russian travelers to the places where they have not been (both domestic and outbound destinations). A growing number of people want to visit internal regions of the countries already known to them. The main emphasis to attract the tourist is currently made on singularity of the places.
The main feature of summer 2017 was a considerable decrease in the prices of holidays in Russia. It was encouraged mainly by return of Russian tourist to Turkey (the Turkish resorts received 33% of all sold tours. Last year, Russia held the leading position but with a lower result -28%).
This summer, the Russians have still preferred to stay in 3* hotels. The 4* hotels are a bit less popular. The number of people who bought tours in 5* hotels increased 2.5 times from the previous. The interest in 2* hotels decreased by 14%. More than half of the Russian travelers preferred to have a holiday for two persons. The second popular category was a trip for one (14%). The third-largest category was a trip for two adults and one child (12%). This summer, the Russians have spent on holidays less than during the previous summer. The average spend of domestic and foreign destinations has decreased this year (data published by Level.Travel experts). For reference, the average price of a Russian tour has been 34 570 RUB or 515 EUR (last year it was 43 753 RUB or 635 EUR), while the average price of a foreign tour is 72 280 RUB or 1 050 EUR (last year it was 77 212 RUB or 1 120 EUR).
The executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia noted that, in general, the summer season 2017 ended up about the same as the previous ones. The internal tourism is still on the top of the list. Turkey has once again become the most popular destination for the outbound tourism.
Finpro, Global Network – Moscow