Russian tourists to the region expected to significantly increase

Arabian Travel Market

Data published ahead of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020 has revealed that Russian tourists travelling to the GCC are set to generate an estimated $1.22 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023 – an increase of 19 per cent compared to figures from 2018.

Research conducted by Colliers International has predicted that the UAE will witness the highest growth, with total tourism spend by Russian visitors projected to reach $1.153 billion by 2023 and tourism spend per trip increasing five per cent from $1,600 to $1,750.

Exhibition director – Middle East, ATM, Danielle Curtis declared: “With the oil price recovery, stabling of the financial markets and increased disposable incomes, Russia, once again, represents a significant growth area for travel and tourism revenue across the GCC as Russian nationals turn to the region for its year-round sunshine, world-class hotels and resorts and fast-paced leisure facilities and amenities.”


Saudi Arabia is expected to witness the second largest increase due to game-changing tourism reforms, closely followed by Oman, with total Russian tourism spend estimated to reach $28,659,600 and $21,788,000, respectively, by 2023.

Russia continues to be one of the top 10 source markets for the UAE, with 578,000 Russian visitors entering the UAE in 2018. This figure is predicted to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.2 per cent to 688,300 by 2023, according to Colliers International.

Curtis remarked: “Supporting this projected growth, Russia’s links with the UAE have strengthened in recent years due to relaxed visa regulations for Russian nationals and the introduction of additional airline routes, with flydubai becoming the first airline in the Gulf to offer direct flights between the UAE and Sochi earlier this year.

“Adding to this, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have also increased their flights between both countries, with the former introducing a third daily flight to Moscow in 2018,” she added.

Colliers International’s research revealed that while the UAE will account for the majority of Russian arrivals in the GCC, Oman will witness the second highest comparative growth at four per cent – welcoming 13,000 Russian nationals by 2023.

Saudi Arabia will closely follow with 17,100 Russian tourists expected to visit the Kingdom by 2023, compared with 15,200 in 2018 – a comparative growth of 3.2 per cent.

“Higher Russian visitor numbers will help support investment opportunities and economic diversification, in line with the Kingdom’s plans to target 30 million visitors annually by 2030,” Curtis concluded.

Russia has been well represented at ATM over the last 27 years, with the number of visitors interested in doing business with Russia increasing 16 per cent YoY between 2018 and 2019.

As GCC travel and tourism companies and destinations work to gain a larger share of the Russian market, ATM 2020 will introduce new buyer forums and networking events exploring the untapped opportunities that Russia’s expanding tourism market presents, while discussing how to attract and cater to this fruitful source market.