Travel TrendsYes, if they're rich — and Asia appears to be a favoured region.

Are Russians still travelling?

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Russian outbound tourism has taken a drastic dip in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.
Russian outbound tourism has taken a drastic dip in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/yuliasverdlova

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 them.

Are Russians still travelling?
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 ForwardKeys.

Recently 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.

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