Tourist season 2019: costly Turkey, hidden price rise from Aeroflot and accessible trips to Crimea

Prices for tours to Antalya have gone up by 20%, Tunisia hits popularity records, while the Crimean Bridge gives succour to domestic tourists

Tourist season 2019: costly Turkey, hidden price rise from Aeroflot and accessible trips to Crimea
Photo: Maksim Platonov

The transition to the euro and changes in the currency rate caused a serious appreciation of tours to Turkey, which still remains the most popular resort among Russians. Price for plane tickets has also increased, which air carriers are trying to disguise. For instance, Aeroflot began to sell tickets without luggage — one has to pay extra for a suitcase. But there is also good news for those who want to economise on a seaside holiday: the number of tourists taking their own car to get to the peninsula increase after the opening of the Crimean Bridge, which is 10 times cheaper than a flight to Crimea. Read what other destinations are popular among tourists in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Cold summer doesn’t boost demand for hot countries

Even if the summer both in Kazan and in Central Russia in general has been cold and rainy, the weather conditions didn’t boost demand for tours to hot cities and countries.

“Generally speaking, demand has remained at last year’s level. There is some increase if we look at the general statistics of flights from Kazan. But if we calculate the amount of money, the average indicator hasn’t grown. Of course, people make decisions because of weather forecast. But we should understand that not everyone can afford spontaneous trips. Such tourists exist, but it isn’t a decisive number,” Director General of Companion SP tourist company Sergey Pasechnik says.

A reduction of destinations with flights from Kazan didn’t help the demand grow. Director General of Inteltur tourism company Liliya Savelyeva notes that flights to Rhodes, Croatia, Montenegro were cancelled. Moreover, Flydubai cancelled flights to the UAE in the summertime.

“This year tour operators corrected the programme. There is no wide range of destinations like it was during the previous years. This is why I can’t say that the number of tourists increased because of the bad weather conditions [in Kazan] because neither did flights increase,” thinks Liliya Savelyeva.

Tours to Turkey go up to 30% in price

Turkey remains the most popular foreign destination among Russian tourists in summertime. According to President of the Association of Tourism Agencies of the Republic of Tatarstan Ramil Miftakhov, Tunisia can be considered the second popular destination from Kazan, though it doesn’t account for a big sales volume. Then it is Greece, Spain, Bulgaria. Director of Salavat bureau of tourism services Kamil Tarzimanov notes that tours to European countries remain quite sought-after apart from Turkey, particularly, to the Czech Republic, Italy.

However, in comparison with the last year, the price for tours to Turkey has quite significantly increased. The market players who were surveyed assess that this destination became 15-20% more expensive, while in some cases the price rose to even 30%. What’s the reason? The case is that if a tour’s price was fixed in dollars last year, this season the price is now fixed in euros. Moreover, the dollar was cheaper against the ruble a year ago. It should be noted that Realnoe Vremya’s experts forecasted appreciation of Turkey as early as last autumn.

“Turkey is being very expensive this year, much more expensive than last year. Though it is still booked, it remains trendy. But Tunisia began competition with Turkey because of good prices. A good seaside hotel in Tunisia is cheaper than Turkish. Traffic to China was good: low prices, people were afraid, of course, but they still booked. We almost don’t book our southern resorts — Crimea, Sochi — because of very high prices,” Director of Another Dimension Yulia Kaurova says.

According to the data provided to Realnoe Vremya by Group of Companies, tours not only to Turkey but also in most of other destinations quite significantly rose in price compared to last year. Tours in Russia didn’t become an exception.

Crimean Bridge helps tourists save money

Resorts in Krasnodar Kari are the most popular among Russian destinations, states Ramil Miftakhov.

“Crimea is second. It increased traffics because of the opening of the Crimean Bridge. Many prefer going by car because they significantly save money. The price for a two-way flight to Crimea from Kazan is about 20,000 rubles. In other words, a flight for a family of four costs almost 80,000 rubles, while this trip by car will be 8,000 rubles,” Miftakhov says.

According to him, two-way tickets from Kazan to Sochi can be purchased for a lower price — for 13-14,000 rubles on average. Despite this, many holidaymakers prefer going there in their own car to provide themselves with mobility and save money on transport. This is why a part of Russian tourists booked only ground service by getting to the resorts on their own.

Air carriers disguise rise in prices for flights

Particularly prices for flights rose because of the change in the currency rate and more expensive fuel. Moreover, tourist may not notice the rise in prices for tickets because air carriers often disguise it.

“Now Aeroflot sells tariffs without luggage. It is our national carrier that we didn’t consider as a low-cost airline, and now they have the first tariff without luggage. In fact, tickets rose in price. You purchase a ticket, and then it turns out that there is no luggage,” Liliya Savelyeva says.

At Realnoe Vremya’s request, experts of Aviasales analysed bookings in June-July 2019 was made up the top 10 popular countries among Russian tourists. Aviasales also see a rise in the average price for flights: a two-way flight from Russia is 18,000 rubles on average in 2019, which is 10% more expensive compared to the last year.

Turkey chairs the rankings by Aviasales, a ticket was 17,674 rubles, which is 9% less than last year. Italy is second (-14%, 17,329 rubles on average), Spain is third (+4%, 23,261 rubles on average), Armenia is fourth (+5%, 15,793 rubles on average), Montenegro is fifth (-4%, 20,469 rubles on average). Then it is Germany (-1%, 18,952 rubles on average), Bulgaria (+18%, 20,469 rubles on average), France (-11%, 22,063 rubles on average) and Greece (+4%, 20,942 rubles on average).

The country that was first in 2018 rounds about the top — Georgia. Despite the difficulties with air communication, some tourists continue flying to Georgia with connections in Istanbul, Baku, Riga or Yerevan.

No last-minute deal

“There are no last-minute tours in August. I will put an example. I had been looking for a hotel for quite deep-pocketed clients for three days so that it would be worthy accommodation. Good hotels have villas for 1,5-2 million rubles, while there are no standard rooms available. So a hotel could cost 130,000 in the morning, while it is already 159,000 by the evening, and it isn’t available on many days,” Liliya Savelyeva says.

Ramil Miftakhov thinks that the concept of a last-minute deal in general became obsolete and turned into a marketing stunt.

“Everything is sold in real time mode, everything is already automated. And you came now, and you can buy with a good discount now. If a hotel offered a price with a good discount, it is done in real time mode. If it didn’t offer, nobody lowers the prices. A tourist comes to the office thinking that there are discounts, while the price is the same everywhere, every operator sees them in the system, there are no special prices.”
By Gulandam Fatkhullina