Russian tourists ‘looking to Asia after Turkey holiday ban’

Russian tourists ‘looking to Asia after Turkey holiday ban’

Russian tourists ‘looking to Asia after Turkey holiday ban’

DHA Photo

Russian tour operators are turning their focus to Asian destinations like Thailand and China, after the country’s tourism board banned package holidays to Turkey in response to the shooting down of a Russian jet near the Syrian border last month,as reported by the Singapore-based Channel News Asia (CNA) on Dec. 14. 

Turkey made up about half of all business for Tez Tour, one of Russia’s largest tour companies, but the recently enforced ban is now forcing a change in strategy. 

“We are changing our business model, we know we have to look for alternatives. We will have to look harder for other foreign destinations,” said Tez Tour’s Public Relations Director Larissa Akhanova, as quoted CNA.

Some the alternative destinations include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, and Jordan, but destinations further east are also increasingly popular, according to Maya Lomidze from the Association of Russian Tour Operators. 

“Russia is a big country. For the European part of the country, Egypt and Turkey were the top destinations. But in the Far East of Russia and in Siberia, China is a stable second position while Thailand is number one,” Lomidze said, as quoted by CNA. 

The Association of Russian Tour Operators has high hopes for Asian destinations, including Vietnam and is hoping to work more closely with China.

Meanwhile, Turkish Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal has said that the main priority of Turkey’s tourism sector is to not lose Russian tourists, who make up a large proportion of foreign tourists in Turkey. Tourism sector players are therefore hoping for an easing of current tensions between Ankara and Moscow.

Speaking after a closed meeting with leading sector representatives in the Mediterranean resort province of Antalya on Dec. 5, Ünal said the representatives had given him a 100-item list of demands to be presented to the cabinet.  

Turkey’s tourism sector has already suffered due to ongoing economic problems in Russia, with reservations by Russian tourists in Turkey decreasing by around 37 percent at the beginning of 2015 compared to last year.