Russia: tourists to Europe dropped by 90% in 2022

The flow of Russian tourists to Europe in 2022 decreased by 80–90% due to logistical difficulties, bans, and travel costs three to four times higher than before. Although the figures do not include medical tourism there is a strong suggestion that as other countries closed, Turkey has benefited from increased numbers of Russians.

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) stated that in the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic and Finland, after the introduction of restrictions on the entry of Russians, the tourist flow from Russia fell to zero.

The Greek Embassy in the Russian Federation reported from January to September 2022, that 31,300 Russian citizens visited Greece, which is 80% less than a year earlier.

The complex transport logistics, the lack of direct flights to Europe, and the need to fly transit flights with transfers meant that flights are often very expensive. A ticket to Europe previously cost €300–400 (US$324-433) on average, now it costs €1,000 (US$1,082) or more. The flight time has increased from three hours to 8-24 hours.

Using statistics from visa centres in Greece, Italy and Spain – traditionally the most popular among Russians as destinations in Europe – ATOR confirmed the drop in applications was 80%. These three countries continued to issue visas despite EU bans, so the number of Russian tourists decreased the least.

In other countries, this figure is even higher. Ten EU states do not allow Russians in at all, including Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Finland, the Czech Republic and Estonia.

Countries that are not in the Schengen agreement, such as Bulgaria, and Cyprus, are where the flow of Russians continues, but numbers are much lower.

In 2021, according to statistics from Russia’s Federal Security Service, FSB, the top 10 travel destinations for Russian citizens included only three EU countries: Cyprus (over 560,000), Greece (235,200) and Croatia (135,000).

According to the Russian border statistics service, in the first three quarters of 2022, Russians made 17.4 million trips abroad, which is 13.8% higher than a year earlier. Of these, 4.7 million were for tourism. At the same time, no EU country was included in the top ten most popular tourist destinations among Russian tourists. In the third quarter, from July to September, the number of trips by Russian citizens abroad was 9.7 million, which is almost twice as much compared to the second quarter of 2022 (then the number of trips was 5 million).

In the three quarters of 2022, Finland became the leader in the number of trips of Russians among European countries — in January-September, citizens of the Russian Federation made almost 731,200 trips to this country. This is almost three times higher than a year earlier.

This trend is largely due to the fact that from July 15, the Russian government lifted the ban on travelling abroad through land borders. From July 22, Finland lifted coronavirus restrictions on the entry of tourists and simplified the issuance of visas. But at the end of September, the Scandinavian country, following the Baltic republics, introduced a ban on the entry of Russians on tourist visas.

In addition to Finland, among the top five destinations were Abkhazia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Georgia. These five countries accounted for almost 70% of all departures.