A study by Colliers International, commissioned by the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018, anticipates a significant rise in the number of Russian visitors to the GCC, with arrival figures expected to jump 38 per cent on 2016’s figures by the year 2020.
Over the last 25 years, Russia has been well represented at ATM, with exhibitors including Moscow City Government, National Tourist Union and the city of St. Petersburg. A 17 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of Russian exhibitors was recorded between 2016-2017, with 9.4 per cent of exhibition attendees expressing interest in doing business with Russia last year.
“Traditionally, the GCC has always been popular with Russian tourists but over recent years, we have witnessed some fluctuations in their arrival rates across the GCC, which was a reflection of volatility in the financial and energy markets,” said senior exhibition director, ATM, Simon Press. “As those factors begin to steady, we are seeing more and more Russian visitors arrive and we expect this to continue.” The country’s relations with the GCC strengthened in 2017 with the introduction of additional airline routes, visas on arrival in the UAE for Russians, a new generation of leisure attractions, retail destinations and a broad range of hotels and resorts right across the GCC region.
Press added: “An increase of 38 per cent on 2016 arrival figures provides a significant boost to the regional tourism industry and is supported by a number of stakeholders, from immigration initiatives, to the region’s hotels, its F&B venues, resorts, theme parks and malls, which all appeal to Russian visitors.”
The research further revealed that UAE visitors to Russia were forecast to increase by 15 per cent in 2018, compared to 2016, as Russia hosts the World Cup.
In the first three quarters of 2017, Dubai reported a 98 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of Russian arrivals, with the country representing one of the emirate’s top 10 source markets.
Elsewhere in the UAE, Russian hotel guest arrivals increased by 41 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, which recorded a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in international arrivals in H1 of 2017.
Saudi Arabia is also anticipating an increase of at least 20 per cent in Russian visitors to the Kingdom by 2020.
Press concluded: “Russia is once again turning to the GCC for its year-round sunshine, world-class hotels and resorts, and fast-paced leisure and safe investment landscape.”