Realnoe Vremya Analytics: outbound traffic from Russia collapses almost 30 times at epidemic peak

Realnoe Vremya Analytics: outbound traffic from Russia collapses almost 30 times at epidemic peak
Photo: Dmitry Reznov

As the analytical service of Realnoe Vremya found out, the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of the year brought down traffic on the Russian border. Incoming and outgoing passenger traffic fell by 2,5 times compared to last year, and from April to June — during self-isolation and closed borders — the tourist flow was completely reduced to zero. Nevertheless, Russian citizens were returned to their homeland by evacuation flights. While planes were not flying, most crossed the Russian border driving a car — this is how almost 442,000 of our compatriots went abroad.

Russia is popular with Kazakhstanis, Ukrainians and Filipinos

Coronavirus put an end to the plans of many Russians and foreigners who were going to travel at the end of March, when most states closed their borders with the declaration of self-isolation. Only those who had good reasons could cross them. The ban did not apply to truck drivers, train drivers, crews of river and sea vessels. Vacationers, business travelers and labour migrants could only return home by exported flights.

As Realnoe Vremya found out, after studying the data of the FSB border service, incoming traffic at the peak of the epidemic — in the second quarter of this year — at the Russian border sank 17 times, and outbound traffic — 29 times. In total, 5,9 million foreigners entered the country in the first half of the year, or 2,5 times less than in the 6 months of 2019 (15 million people)

The largest decline for the above reasons occurred in the second quarter of the year. For example, from April to June, 509,000 foreigners arrived in our country, or 17 times less than in the second quarter of last year, when 8,6 million residents of other countries visited our country. Citizens of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan visited Russia during this period most often, as well as residents of foreign countries: the Philippines, Turkey and China. 437,000 people out of half a million who arrived during the period of self-isolation are marked in the EMISS statistics as “vehicle maintenance personnel”. “Private trip”, as the purpose of the visit to our country, was indicated by 54,600 foreigners, business trips were taken by 11,900, and 1,700 people visited our country in transit.

But more people moved to Russia for permanent residence in the second quarter of the year — about 1,400 people against 171 emigrants a year earlier.

“Organised and not very”

In the first place among foreigners who arrived in April-June, there are citizens of Kazakhstan — 142,000, but this is still seven times less than in last year's second quarter — more than 1 million people. Guests from the South did not come to rest — there are no tourists among them: 134,500 of them are listed as “service personnel”. 1,500 people made business trips, 5,500 made private trips,and 1,200 people moved to Russia for residence.

The director of public relations at Intourist, Daria Domostroyeva, called the Kazakhstan direction unorganised tourism. According to her, there and back people go for work, on business, to relatives. According to the interdepartmental system, the majority of Kazakhstanis — 119,000 — came by car, 20,000 — by train and only 625 — by plane.

The second in terms of the number of visitors to Russia in the “Covid” quarter of the year — citizens of Ukraine: more than 122,000 people came from this country. Residents of the Philippines are the third by inbound traffic, and all 34,100 of them are also recorded as “service personnel”. According to an expert from Intourist, the Filipinos who arrived are more like organised tourism.

“Tourists from South-East Asia come to us in large groups, for them our nature, winter is an absolute exotic," said Daria Domostroyeva in an interview with Realnoe Vremya.

It is noteworthy that out of 34,000, only 13 people from the Philippines arrived in Russia by plane, and the lion's share reached by water. “As part of the cruises, they probably entered through the Asian part of Russia," the head of Intourist suggested.

Interestingly, the Russians themselves, according to statistics, do not often go to the Philippines. In six months, 238 people went there, 17 of them — from April to June, and last year — only 29 people.

“As far as I remember, there is really no such large flow to the Philippines in comparison with incoming tourism. Besides, last winter there were some natural disasters. Therefore, the Philippines has always been a non-mass product. There are no charters or direct flights from Moscow there. Individual tourists, going to this country, use various connecting flights.

From Uzbekistan — 22k transport workers

Traffic from Uzbekistan dropped significantly — in the second quarter of the year, 22,800 people came to Russia, or 35 times less than a year earlier (801,000). In general, incoming traffic for six months decreased the same as from Ukraine, by 2,3 times. 22,1k people called themselves “service personnel”. 398 people came for private purposes, 178 — for business, 38 — for travel in Russia, and 27 — emigrated to our country.

Human rights activist Batyrjon Shermatov, who provides legal assistance to emigrants from Central Asia, was surprised even by such a large number of Uzbek citizens who entered as 22,800 people during self-isolation. The social activist told Realnoe Vremya that from September 9 two flights from Moscow, one from St. Petersburg, as well as from other Russian cities, fly to Uzbekistan every day. However, very few people are received in the opposite direction. There are private flights, but they are expensive and not affordable for ordinary Uzbek citizens.

“I get calls and emails almost every day asking how they can enter Russia. For the majority of people — in no way for now. According to Russian rules, at the moment, to come to Russia from Uzbekistan, you must have a residence permit in Russia or have close relatives — Russian citizens, or go to sick relatives to take care of them. Besides, diplomats or patients can come for treatment. Students, for example, are not allowed to enter the country yet," Shermatov explained.

The lawyer suggested that the main part of migrants by occupation is related to the provision of transport services.

“In recent weeks, some major employers have organised outcoming flights from Uzbekistan to Russia with the permission of both governments. For example, in Amur Oblast, a large facility is being built for Gazprom: thousands of people are needed there. Several flights have already arrived there. After a two-week quarantine people are starting to work," added Batyrjan Shermatov.

Finland attracted Russians the most

As for the Russians who crossed the border during the coronavirus half-year, it is clear that there was a global decline here as well. From January to June, 8 million Russians left — the departure rate decreased by about the same as the departure figures — by 2,6 times. In the second quarter of the year, no one was allowed to leave the country except for those who didn't fall under the ban. Therefore, in April-June, the flow fell 29 times from 13 million to 442,000 people. Of these, the vast majority — 314,000 people — are also “vehicle maintenance personnel”, most likely truck drivers and marine vessels.

More than 98,000 Russians went on a private trip, and about 18,000 people went on a business visit. About 4,000 military personnel went abroad, 78 people changed their place of residence. And 109 people still crossed the border as tourists. They went to Moldova, Cyprus, Turkey, Uzbekistan, the USA and Kazakhstan.

In the second quarter of the year, most Russians, more than 64,000 people, went to Finland, which is 15 times less than last year, and in 6 months this figure fell twofold. Kazakhstan and Ukraine are the second and third, respectively. And only 517 people wanted to leave Russia for Uzbekistan in the second quarter, while last year in the same period more than 63,000 Russians left our country in this direction.

The service personnel who went to Finland in the second quarter amounted to 62,000 people, and in the first 3 months this figure was slightly higher, 76,500 people with a total flow of almost 814,000 people. From April to June, more than 2,000 people went to Finland on private trips, and 117 Russians made business trips.

“Finland is a mass destination in organised tourism. Six months ago, when the euro was at about the same level, the number of tourists there was growing. Now everyone is very much waiting, if Finland is opened, then active reservations for the New Year will begin. Russians can work there in related industries, for example, in logistics, in joint ventures, for example, Valio," said Daria Domostroyeva.

During the period of self-isolation, about 58,000 Russians went to their northern neighbours by road, 451 people went by plane, almost 3,000 went by train, and 2,000 went by water transport.

Experts highlight the transport accessibility of Finland for Russians. The Lev Tolstoy train runs daily from Moscow to Helsinki, and the Allegro train runs several times a day from Saint Petersburg.

By Yekaterina Ablaeva
Tatarstan