New Year holiday: the UAE want to become a new Egypt for Russia, but the demand not so high

Travel industry experts tell where Kazan citizens are going for the New Year holiday

This year, Russia has the New Year holiday from 30 December to 8 January. Booking of trips is going quietly. VIP tourists have already booked the tours in August, and now they are planning trips for May holidays, but the middle class is waiting to the last. But there is nothing to wait for — most likely, there won't be last minute offers. The good news is that tourists longing for Egypt are welcomed in the UAE. Read more in the review of Realnoe Vremya.

Tatarstan citizens still choose hot countries to visit in the New Year holiday — the ratio of those who go for skiing to those who prefer a beach holiday is traditional — 15% to 85%. There is also no special breakthroughs in the booking for New Year holidays: the main flow was in September, now the agencies are working without any unnecessary stress, Ramil Miftakhov says, the president of the Association of tourist agencies of the Republic of Tatarstan. This year the demand is higher than last year, but it is a very modest growth — 5-10%. The crisis continues, and it is tangible, they believe in the tourism industry.

''The middle class, who used to travel three or four times a year, now do it twice a year or reduce the budget of the trip,'' says Alena Surovtseva, the head of the tourism department at the company Skyland.

There is also no special breakthroughs in the booking for New Year holidays: the main flow was in September, now the agencies are working without any unnecessary stress, Ramil Miftakhov says. Photo: Roman Khasaev

These words of Skyland have been confirmed in Svyaznoy Travel, where they are observing a reducing reservation depth in expectation for the best deals from airlines and a duration of trips of independent tourists. For the sake of saving, tourists change the date of departure:

''Last year, Russians travelled for 10-14 days, this year the most popular period is 6-9 days. The number of reservations with departure date on January 2-5 has increased — in this period the ticket price is usually lower than in the last week of December,'' the company informed.

Georgia was going to become an interesting budget destination, Ramil Miftakhov says. It was popular, and with the advent of flight Kazan-Tbilisi it was about to beat all records of popularity, especially as the price promised to be very interesting: 15,000-16,000 rubles for a round-trip ticket. But Rosaviation has not given permission for the flight.

Therefore, the top countries for booking have remained unchanged from last year. The most favourite among tropical countries in winter are Vietnam, Goa, Thailand. But the absolute record belongs to the UAE. In many ways, the interest of our tourists is reasoned by the fact that since February the visa to the UAE has been abolished for Russian citizens – the stamp is given right at the airport, reminds Alexey Zaretsky, director general of the online trips service Travelata.

''The Emirates now want to become a new Egypt — a year-round resort for Russian tourists. The country is being strongly promoted, and all tour operators are relying on it very much. There is an incredible number of flight programmes: from scheduled flights to charter flights and low-cost airlines. There are discount offers from hoteliers, among them there can be last minute offers,'' says Dmitry Malyutin, director general of the online reservation service Level.Travel.

The top countries for bookings have remained unchanged from last year. Photo: Maksim Platonov

''This year it has been organized seven flights a week, five of which are flydubai,'' Miftakhov noted. ''I do not see a growth for Europe destination. Interestingly, this year the company ClubMed is going to take to France twice more tourists than in the past. But in absolute numbers it is a small amount. European and, in particular, skiing remains very expensive. The flight to Frankfurt by Aeroflot, for example, will cost 36,000-38,000 rubles, Prague — 40,000. If you choose skiing, that's an additional 150-200 euros per person for the lifts and 150 euros for the inventory.''

The average cost for winter holidays is traditionally higher. If in summer it was 100,000 rubles for two person, in winter it is already 160,000 rubles, Miftakhov noted.

Among exotic destinations, the experts name Zanzibar with a stop in Tanzania and the island of Phu Quoc. However, these tours are available only from Moscow, Ramil Miftakhov says. In Kazan this year the opening of the flight to the Dominican Republic could change the situation, but this did not happen. Among popular destinations for the New Year from Moscow there are also Cuba and Israel, Miftakhov says.

It didn't work out with Tbilisi, let's go to Prague

However, a negligible number of Kazan tourists choose challenging routes with departure from the capital, experts say. As for direct flights, for New Year holidays in Kazan airport there will appear some new destinations.

''First of all, it should be noted the opening of a new direction — Haikou, Hainan, the flights are launched by the airline Pegas Fly from December 24th. The flights from Kazan will be carried out on Sundays. Besides, during the New Year holidays they will open the flight to Grenoble (France). From December 28th, Rossiya Airlines opens the flight program to Sharjah. The frequency of flights to Prague will be increased. From 1 November it has already been opened flights to Pardubice in the Czech Republic,'' listed Adel Gataullin, press secretary of Kazan airport.

The frequency of flights to Prague will be increased. Photo: Maksim Platonov

In addition to the mentioned above flights to Dubai (in addition to flydubai, they will be performed by AZUR air, Nordwind Airlines and Ural Airlines), Turkmenistan Airlines offers transit flights to Dubai via Ashgabat at very competitive rates, they note in the airport. Besides, during the holidays it is scheduled flights to Antalya and additional aircrafts to St. Petersburg.

''We are observing a significant growth of passenger traffic on the routes, which are often used by our passengers as transit: Istanbul, Helsinki, Baku. We expect that the opened in 2017 flight to Riga will also be in high demand during the New Year holidays among passengers travelling to Europe. We will remind that the flight Kazan-Riga during holidays is performed with a frequency of two flights per week,'' Gataullin says.

Last year in the period from 28 December to 8 January, the airport serviced 58,600 passengers. This year, it plans to transport up to 100,000 people.

Should we expect last minute offers?

More than 50% of tourists buy tickets a week before departure. The thing is that the Russians have a complicated relationship with holidays — it is given at the last moment or not given, Aviasales says.

Skyland agency clarify — this is true for the middle class. Those who choose expensive tours, they book already in summer and are already planning May holidays. With such time cushion you can win up to 40% of the cost of the tour, says Alena Surovtseva. One can grab a decent discount at last minute offers, too, for example, now the tour operator Biblioglobus is offering to go to the Czech Republic for 20,000 rubles for two people. But one shouldn't count on such fabulous offers for the New Year, experts warn, especially if it concerns distant Asian countries. Moreover, if you temporize, you can stay without a tour at all, Ramil Miftakhov added.

Those who choose expensive tours, they book already in summer and are already planning May holidays. With such time cushion you can win up to 40% of the cost of the tour, says Alena Surovtseva. Photo: Roman Khasaev

Inside Russia

As for domestic tourism, according to Aviasales, the most popular destination remains Moscow (22% of the total number of bookings), it is followed by Petersburg (10,5%) and the third place — Krasnodar (5%). Sochi finishes the fourth (4,3%), Crimea — the sixth (3,2%). How many tourists will come to Kazan, the State Committee for tourism cannot predict for now. This will be clear by mid-December, when data on bookings in Kazan hotels is collected. But federal experts already now know that Kazan will be included in the top five most visited cities of Russia.

''It is interesting that all the cities of the top 10 have shown an increase over the year from 30 to 50%, only the popularity of Crimea is decreasing. Despite the fact that the cost of flights there dropped by 6% to 12,747 rubles, the growth of the tourist flow to the Peninsula amounted to only 16%,'' says Yulia Domracheva, PR manager for Aviasales. ''And the main competitor of Crimea — Sochi — has the opposite situation: the price of flights has increased by 17% (to 19,207 rubles), and bookings became more as much as by 42%.''

It is despite the fact that the service in recent years there has only increased, and accusations that the resort is 'expensive/nothing to do' now are quite irrelevant, Alena Surovtseva claims.

''We were in Sochi in October, we were very impressed. Now there is everything for tourists on any budget,'' the expert said. ''Yes, it is a holiday in the mountains, it takes 40 minutes to go to the sea — but there is a shuttle to the best beach of the region.''

According Hospitality Income Consulting, from the capital region the most popular destinations are the Moscow region (including Zavidovo, Ryazan and Kaluga region, the Golden Ring of Russia), Kazan, Saint-Petersburg, Karelia, Sochi.

The federal experts already now know that Kazan will be included in the top five most visited cities in Russia. Photo: Roman Khasaev

However, as for Karelia, there is no offers for tourists of the economy segment, and this year they prefer not to go to Karelia, said Vitaly Tarakanov, the director for Golden Ring of Karelia.

''The cost of a trip to Karelia for three-four days, including railway tickets, accommodation in 3* hotel, meals and excursions will cost 30,000-35,000 rubles,'' said the representative of the region. ''The tourists in the segment business and VIP this year are showing increased interest in travel around Russia and in particular Karelia. The number of applications in the overall structure of all applications in this segment has grown three times.''

Kaliningrad has risen high enough in the rankings this year, which previously was not included in the list of cities of interest for the citizens of Russia.

''The average cost of travel inside the country is 4,000 rubles/day per person. The trip packages to Veliky Ustyug — from 30,000 rubles per person, to Krasnaya Polyana — from 13,000 rubles per person, to Crimea — 27,000 rubles,'' says Elena Lysenkova, CEO of Hospitality Income Consulting.

By Aygul Chuprina