The aviation sanctions that arose from the Russian-Ukraine war
clearly put a dampener on Russian outbound tourism, with flight bookings
from Russia dipping to a trickle.
A week before Russia’s military stormed Ukraine, outbound
international air tickets from Russia had recovered to 42% of
pre-pandemic levels. But in the week following the invasion saw air
tickets fall to just 19%, and it just keeps getting worse. Flight
bookings have now dropped to 15%.
But Russian travellers are still flying, just not to Europe, revealed ForwardKeys.
Owing to the UK, EU and US imposing airspace restrictions surrounding
commercial and private-owned planes from Russia, these destinations
that were once popular among Russian travellers are out of reach to
Photo Credit: ForwardKeys
Affluent Russian travellers have instead started looking to
destinations within Asia and the Middle East as alternatives.
ForwardKeys’ analysis of flight bookings reveals the top five
destinations for Russian travellers between May and August are Sri
Lanka, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and UAE.
Bookings to Sri Lanka are currently 85% ahead of pre-pandemic levels,
the Maldives 1% behind, Kyrgyzstan 11% behind, Turkey 36% behind and
the UAE, 49% behind.
“Something to note though is that Sri Lanka’s position at the head of
the list is not a true reflection of the island’s attractiveness as a
destination, it’s more about safety. Rather, it is a consequence of
terrorist bombings, which scared away visitors in 2019, the pre-pandemic
benchmark year,” says Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at
issued tickets to Turkey and the UAE suggests that a substantial
proportion are affluent Russians going on holiday, considering that the
number of seats sold to Russian travellers in premium cabins has
tripled, compared to 2019.
Additionally, the average trip duration for these premium travellers is now 12 nights in Turkey and 7 nights in the UAE.