‘In general everything became more expensive. The price in Turkey now is like five years ago but for summer holidays’

Turkey, the UAE, Thailand: experts named the most popular and affordable tours for Tatarstan residents in 2023

‘In general everything became more expensive. The price in Turkey now is like five years ago but for summer holidays’
Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

As a result of severance of relations between Russia and the West, the tourism sector turned out to be one of the most affected areas of the economy. Hardly recovered after the coronavirus pandemic, it faced next restrictions, though the new closure of borders. Despite this, Russian tour operators managed to set up international contacts with a series of friendly countries and significantly strengthen the domestic market. Tourism continues to develop actively, and Tatarstan plays one of the key roles in its reinforcement. In 2022, tourist traffic in the republic surpasses numbers of the previous year, while the region itself repeated occupied leading positions in a number of indicators of this sector. However, Tatarstan people themselves do not lower the pace in their travels. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report about the most popular and affordable routes from local tour operators.

“Turkey is at the moment a friendly country, and it loves Russian tourists”

As owner of Companion SP company Sergey Pasechnik told Realnoe Vremya, despite the popular stereotype that Abkhazia and Turkey are the most popular countries among Russians, the forward isn’t really in huge demand.

“We very rarely deal with Abkhazia. Little has changed there since 1980. Everything is really beautiful there but out of date. As for Turkey, Antalya with a direct flight from Kazan is the most popular here, of course. It has recently become popular all year round. We see big demand in winter. As a way of staying clear of blues and diseases. It is kind of alternative to our dirty snow and wind. Bodrum is the second destination, it is considered premium. It is expensive five-star hotels and beautiful landscapes. As the third destination, I would single out Istanbul and Cappadocia. All the three Turkish destinations are visa-free. Turkey is at the moment a friendly country, and it loves Russian tourists,” he said.

Still, despite open borders and constant contact, there have been changes in international tours. First of all, it is about the price, and as the expert noted, the causes of its growth depend on the destinations themselves.

“Travels abroad have become more expensive, first of all, because of flight prices. Firstly, there was a long-term idle period. Secondly, only Aeroflot airline left, and some others. They are almost monopolists and dictate their prices. And of course, demand gives birth to supply because popular hotels are in demand in winter, and Turks overcharge. The cost of hotels has literally doubled in the last three years. Also, the fluctuation of the Turkish lira influences the demand. I wouldn’t say the same about Europe. As for other exotic countries, only the flight price has increased in all destinations,” said Pasechnik.

According to the head of Companion SP, festive days and school holidays remain the most popular dates like before. Pasechnik singled out several popular travel periods: November holidays, New Year holidays, 8 March, late March, May holidays and the whole summer.

“The United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Turkey are more popular in our company. There are some destinations with direct flights from Kazan such as Thailand. We work with our French partner Club Med a lot, where it is open, for example the Maldives, Seychelles, Turkey. It is in great demand there, including from tourists from Tatarstan,” he explained.
Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

Also, Pasechnik noted that tours in Russia are actively developing today. They became popular because of the “absence of other options — European and long flights,” which, he says, are always linked with “some tension when it comes to applying for a visa, tickets and domestic changes.” Today such destinations as Lake Baikal, Altai, Kamchatka, Sakhalin are in great demand, he noted. Also, the expert singled out a category of visa-free tours — it is Turkey, Egypt, Goa, Seychelles, Maldives and the Emirates.

“It became harder to book something on your own with the exit of Booking.com. If you don’t have a foreign banking card, certain advantages, a passport, it is more sensible to do everything through an operator. The practice has already shown that some private small companies or some bloggers disappear for some reason. Tour operators anyway proved their viability. I am not talking about all of them, only about verified companies. They are more than 15 or 20 years old now. Tatarstan has such companies working with both document and money transfer. It is important issues because it doesn’t get expensive. There is such a prejudice for some reason that prices of tour operators are higher than that of individuals. We pay taxes, calmly work, and our clients trust us. The pricier the tour, the more sensible to buy it through a trusted operator,” said Pasechnik.

According to him, now direct flights from Kazan are available to such exotic countries such as Turkey, the Emirates, Goa, Egypt — Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, Thailand — Bangkok and Pattaya. Other flights can be performed through Moscow or Istanbul, he stressed.

“New destinations will depend on the global state of affairs. I would like to believe that Greece or Spain will open. But we really understand that a direct flight to Sakhalin or Vladivostok will open sooner. Such things are also very popular for our tourists. I will note Dagestan, Sochi, Kaliningrad and a direct flight to Serbia from Kazan among the most popular destinations,” the expert concluded.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

“In general everything became more expensive”

Director of Travel and Work Yulia Talanova also confirmed for Realnoe Vremya that nowadays Tatarstan residents as well as all Russians are not rushing to Abkhazia. As for Turkey, she agreed this destination is one of the most popular and promising ones. However, the recent earthquakes in this country anyway made amendments to the tourism business.

“In Turkey, it is of course all summer resorts: Antalya, Alanya and so on. In other words, those mainly with heated swimming pool. Istanbul, of course, too. But due to the recent tragedy, people who had been thinking about a trip started to refuse this idea. Of course, everybody is concerned. I cannot say people are running to Abkhazia. It is rather a summer destination. It is associated with the sea, this is why it is considered in summer more. Everything related to health, people consider Kislovodsk, Mineralnye Vody, Pyatigorsk. This is where people are going,” she said.

It should be reminded that Mw 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes happened in southeast Turkey in Kahramanmaraş Province on 6 February with a nine-hour interval and led to large-scale destructions in 10 provinces. Aftershocks that also wrecked havoc on neighbouring countries too followed the underground shaking. Syria suffered the biggest harm. The number of deaths in this tragedy topped 40,000 people.

Like Pasechnik, she also talked about costlier services depending on demand. According to her, the current price of some winter tours can reach the summer price several years ago.

“In general everything became more expensive now. In Turkey, the price is now like five years ago but for a summer holiday. This happened because flights became more expensive too. Nothing now flies directly, the flights are operated through Kazakhstan and so on. As a rule, when the market has less supply, there is appreciation where there is demand. It is marketing,” the expert stressed.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Yelizaveta Punsheva

Talanova also confirmed that breaks and holidays are still the most popular dates. She says that despite the international situation and the recent events, it is important to keep in mind that a trip abroad is as a rule a “family holiday.”

“Thailand, Egypt, the Maldives are now gaining popularity. It is where the weather is warm and one can swim. Of course, there are more destinations from Moscow: Thailand, Mexico, the Dominican Republic. Turkey, Egypt, Thailand are the easiest countries from a perspective of document submittal. Also, it is where a PCR isn’t required” she said.

Also, Talanova noted that nowadays tours from operators show their reliability and convenience more and more. First of all, it is a big number of features that such a trip includes, she emphasised.

“The upside is that there is whole tour package that includes not only a flight but also transfer and accommodation. The case is that firstly you look for a flight, then a place to somehow live. The tour package turns out more favourable. One shouldn’t forget that people love Europe and also want to fly there,” the expert noted.

As for exotic countries, Thailand and India are the most popular from Tatarstan residents. According to Talanova, nowadays they are considered one of the key destinations for an exotic holiday. At the same time, 2023 can open new destinations too, but at the moment it is hard to assume where they can be, the expert concluded.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Ilya Repin

“New Year and May holidays are the most popular for booking”

Anex Tour, in contrast, told Realnoe Vremya that Abkhazia is anyway in demand. The agency noted that this country has many individual tourists too, but people book Pitsunda, Sukhum and Gargy specifically from them.

“In general the prices rose by some 15%, this happened because of the annual price hike and the growth of the currency rate. However, there are early booking offers now when people can buy a hotel they like at a 70% discount, we have a big number of hotels to offer here. It is noteworthy that 200 hotels offered the best prices in the market during the booking period until the end of February,” the tour agency said.

Like other representatives of the tourism business, the representatives of Anex Tour noted that festive days are the most popular period for booking. But from a perspective of the whole year, mostly it is New Year and May holidays.

“During the year in general, New Year, May holidays are the most popular for booking, this year there are long breaks by 23 February, this is why many travel at this time and of course, traditionally summer months, especially the middle and late summer,” the specialists said.
Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

Anex Tour confirmed that nowadays Turkey remains the most popular destination among Kazan citizens as well as most Russians nowadays. It is followed by the UAE and Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. However, it is important to stress that we are talking about the winter period.

“The latter became a sales leader because Southeast Asian countries were long-awaited this season. Such destinations as Istanbul (Turkey) are becoming more popular that at the moment departs from Moscow, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, excursions to neighbouring friendly countries, for instance, to Uzbekistan also started to gain momentum,” the tour agency noted.

Also, the specialists claimed that all visa-free destinations in the range of group tours are considered relatively easy for document submittal nowadays.

“Buying a tour on your own or through a tour operator mainly stopped being topical during the pandemic and the special military operation during the forced evacuation of tourists. The tour operator has commitments to its tourists and can guarantee they will return to the homeland. We have recently seen a tendency of a shift in tourists’ need towards safety and comfort,” the agency said.

Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov
Maxim Kokunin