Thailand has most increased its popularity among the Russian vacationers. The reason is simple - warm water for swimming, good food, completely different kinds of vegetables and fruits to taste. In the whole of last year just over 265,000 Russian tourists travelled to Thailand, whereas the corresponding figure for the first half of this year alone is already more than 250,500. In the Thai holiday resort of Phuket, the Russians are the most important group of foreign visitors, after the Brits and the Australians. As tourists, Russians are very much in demand. According to the authorities in Cyprus, Russian tourists spend more money than foreign visitors on average. Equally, Russians usually prefer longer stays. For this reason, many important tourism countries do not require visitor visas from Russians, or alternatively such documents are issued automatically upon arrival. Apart from Thailand, these countries include the popular destinations of also Cuba, Vietnam, the Philippines, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
Russian diving and surfing fans prefer Maldives islands for a variety of recreational activities and unique marine life this island paradise offers. Maldives-resort is also a top honeymoon destination and a dream holiday for the newlyweds as it offers dessert beeches, spa services for two, romantic and relaxing atmosphere and wedding ceremony facilities. For the same reason Bali tours compete popularity with Maldives among Russian holiday makers. While Paris, London, Prague, Vienna and other European capitals are number one choice for Russians travelling abroad for the first time, profound travelers tend to choose more exotic countries like Nepal, Kenya, Dominica, Seychelles, Bali-Indonesia, Tunis and Goa.
When it comes to picking winter vacation destinations, Russians lean to "from winter to summer" holidays. In Russia people usually have prolonged vacations around New Year and Christmas and many plan to leave the country during this time.
Turkey, Egypt and United Arabian Emirates remained the top destinations of winter holidays for a long time but have lost their attractiveness lately.
The popularity of European destinations is not going down. Many Russians are coming to the Czech Republic for the New Year. They want to see Prague, Pilsen and visit ski resorts in the Krkonoše Mountains, Harrachov, Jablonec nad Jizerou and many other places. Prague New Year packages alluring the visitors with the charm of Gothic cathedral, excellent beer and amazing music are among the top offers of the travel agents
Paris would come as number one choice of a Russian woman for a romantic holiday. It has a reputation of the city of love, a shopping paradise and a cultural capital. Knowing much about the capital of France from films (French movies are popular in Russia), books and TV programs Russians do not miss Paris's highlights like the Eifel tower, the Louvre, Paris Disneyland, Montmartre, Notre-Dame-de-Paris and Seine river cruise.
London is no less desirable city for a holiday. British visa is a must for Russians even if they have valid Schengen Visa. It takes time and efforts to get and according to the statistics every 11th Russian is refused British visa. Making a transit 24-hour visit is hardly possible. The flights are rather expensive. Moscow–London flight can be around 400-600 £ by British Airways one way. Experiences travelers search for cheaper flights and smaller and less popular air companies. Trains from Moscow to Cologne, and then to Brussels with Eurostar ride to London are available. The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, remain the top places to visit. Russians love London for its wonderful boutique sales and hate for high transport prices.
Barcelona offers a plunge into the history, feast, fashion and enjoyment. Spanish travel agencies register Russian travel boom to the country - the number of tourists from Russia have grown 5 times in the last 3 years. 70% of Russian visitors to Spain come to Catalonia. The interests are not limited to sea vacationing and enjoying the Mediterranean lifestyle. Barcelona, Montserrat mount and PortAventura theme park are among the top visited Spanish sites among the Russians. Most of visitors from Russia prefer to stay in a hotel and then make day trips to Barcelona. Vacation packages are more comfortable, yet travelling on one's own is easy to arrange and usually cheaper. Circuit de Catalunya remains beautiful anyway. By all means the incredible architectural works of Antoni Gaudí are what overwhelm a Russian tourist. In 2011 Russians became the most frequent visitors to Gaudí Centre in Reus and made 1/3 of the total number of all visitors. Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is never missed. Walking along Passeig de Gracia is another stunning experience for Russians. Russia's architecture is old and rich in forms, but Casa Batlló with its unique façades and arched roof is nothing similar to it and therefore attracts the masses of visitors. Shopping is one of the additional reasons Russians come to Spain. Famous Boceria market in Barcelona is a shopping paradise and a chance to try exotic fruits and various sorts of cheese and Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham).
Italy is another popular destination. The eternal city of Rome and the wonders of Venice are what attract a Russian tourist most. Schengen Visa makes it relatively easy to visit the Italian capital. Both travel deals and holidays arranged on one's own are widespread. Rome historical and cultural heritage: its famous Coliseum, Vatican and Capitoline Museums, good public transport, traditional pizza and pasta and amicable locals make the visit to Italian capital unforgettable
Car and bus tours to Finland and Norway are in high demand for the affordable price and the wonderful skiing fishing and other outdoor activities like sea kayaking, horse riding and biking. Photographers choose Norway for its magnificent scenery, skiing fans would approach it as nice destination for cross country skiing, giant god fishing holidays in Norway cater for avid anglers. Besides, the country is famous for serene fjords, rugged mountains, creaking glaciers.
The top place for families to go on vacation inside Russia is Sochi, the nation's principle health resort extending 25 miles of beaches on the Black Sea and backed by the magnificent splendor of the Caucasus mountain range. In the days of the Soviet Union it was created in Stalin's epoch as a place for workers to go for their decreed holiday for working loyally for the state and has remained so ever since. It is still very popular today since the collapse of communism. It has a lovely warm climate and little rain during the summer months and is very relaxing. Instead the statistics points out that Russia is now so expensive that it is cheaper to fly to Turkey than to holiday in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, or to visit the pines and endless crystal lakes of northern Karelia, close to the Arctic Circle and the Finnish border. Sochi is transforming itself into a Riviera resort: the Kremlin has invested £6bn. There is a yacht club (where Abramovich moors regularly) and an official residence for Putin. Sochi boasts a seaside promenade, a £20m hotel owned by Russia's sixth richest man and, come the snowy season, world-class skiing at the nearby resort of Krasnaya Polyana.
Super-rich Russians prefer the slopes of the French Alps making Courchevel number one holiday destination of the Russian elite. Attracted by the luxury of Courchevel and what is more its discretion Russian oligarchs and celebrities come to coolest resort in the French Alps to ski, eat, drink and shop. Another popular luxury resort for rich Russians is French Riviera The cities most popular with Russian tourists on Azure Coast are Nice (chosen by 40% of them), Cannes (20%), Monaco (13%) and Antibes (10%).
More moderately priced Austria ski resorts enjoy love of middle class Russians that prefer family holidays. Russian skiing fans admit that it relatively easy to get a visa to Austria, however the skiing holidays in Austrian Alps may be even cheaper than going to Carpathian Mountains provided one makes all the arrangements personally and avoid air travel and travel agencies.
Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine often just called Carpaty is mainly chosen by snowskiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Going there does not require getting a visa and expensive transportation. Carpaty remain an attractive holiday destination due to beautiful natural areas, forests and meadows. Visitors are also attracted to interesting cultural traditions of this region and unique local lifestyle. Ukrainians choose family wildlife vacation in Crapaty for the beautiful sceneries and a number of outdoor activities. Accommodation in 5 Star hotels would make the holiday expensive, but Ukrainians often try and find cheaper options like budget hotels or rent an apartment from the locals. The largest resorts are located in Slavsko, Bukovel, Tysovets, and Dragobrat. Tysovets, Skhidnytsya, Morshin sanatoriums are famous for their rehabilitation facilities and healing mineral baths.
The reputation of Bulgaria reports remained high among Russians this year (2011). Post-Soviet beach destinations in Latvia, Ukraine and southern Russia are making a comeback.
Now Russians in their 30s and 40s are nostalgic for childhood holidays spent in Black Sea resorts and on the Baltic coast. Among the cities of the Baltic States, a Latvian capital of Riga has been most popular travel destination. It charms the visitors with stunning architecture of the Old Town, mostly built in period between 1860 and 1914, vast green areas and water zones, cozy cafes and restaurants serving national food, crafts shops, bridges, catholic churches and cathedrals. In addition, Riga is one of the largest centers of stunning Art Nouveau architecture. A resort town of Jūrmala, 32 kilometers from Riga was a favorite holiday-resort and tourist destination for Russians when Latvia was a part of the Soviet Union due to its quiet atmosphere and a number of sanatoriums and resort homes. Besides, Jūrmala has been a venue for various festivals. Palanga is a town in western Lithuania and the country's most famous beach resort. Its maritime atmosphere and lively nightlife in the summer holiday season makes it another popular tourist destination of the Baltics. The main attraction of Baltic resorts are shallow coastal waters especially suitable and safe for children, long sandy beaches, spa facilities, hiking in sand dunes and pine forests, the healing air, European service and significant number of Russian speaking population make Baltic cities an attractive holiday destination. However strict visa requirements and the general negative attitude to Russians cultivated by the governments of these countries puts the significant number of Russian tourists off.
Russian tourism is rapidly turning into a spectacular global phenomenon. In Soviet times the majority of Russians could not leave the country. Following the collapse of the Soviet system Russians got the freedom to travel abroad and soon gained the international reputation of most unpleasant holidaymakers in the world. Numerous surveys reveal the obnoxious facts that that many foreign tourists, prefer to stay away from Russian holiday-makers on international holiday resorts. The travel agencies even offer a new increasingly popular option - "No Russians guaranteed" tours. Western Euros are willing to pay extra to make sure that where they are going; there will be no Russians around. Why is so much criticism of Russians from the western tourists and hotel personnel?
The co-travelers from the Western countries complain that Russians don't know how to have fun in moderation or have any concept of decorum. It's always full-bore hedonistic debauchery and ruins the atmosphere for everyone else, especially if you have a family with children. They also demonstrate terrible table manners, and – worst of all – habit of hiding sun loungers in their rooms overnight to ensure a spot at the pool. In addition, they are rude, flash their cash around and think they own the place, belch and swore in public areas such as hotel swimming pools and bars, pushed into queues in bars and shops to be served first. Russians are accused of being dressed like 'chavs' - wearing tracksuits and gold bling.
Russian women irritate foreign holiday-makers too. “As a rule, Russian women are good-looking and feminine individuals. They go out wearing expensive outfits and exquisite makeup even in hotels. They do not hesitate to wear a skimpy bikini and walk around a pool exposing their slim bodies. Dutch wives find it especially irritating because their husbands give dirty looks to such women,” Russian newspaper Pravda writes.
The hotel managers and personnel admit that Russian tourists are often aggressive and noisy and prefer to stay in their hotels all day and all night long. Many of them are simply unable to communicate with either other vacationers or hotel personnel. In addition, the Russian style of body language differs greatly from that of the West. Russians eat almost everything at all-inclusive dinners - even taking doggie bags to stock up on grub. The air companies complain that Russians drink before and during flights
The negative opinions against Russians aren't always true. The notorious stereotype of a Russian holidaymaker comes from the beginning of the 90th when the first floods of Russian tourists rushed abroad for holidays. They were mainly newly rich Russians that achieved rapid wealth by using criminal methods during Russia's chaotic transition to a market economy and a suitcase traders exploring news markets. So the stereotype of bored and unsatisfied, arrogant and aggressive Russian tourist feeling totally at home in 5 Star Hotel owes to the impression of this new wave of visitors. The times have been changing and holidays abroad became affordable to totally different groups of Russian population. A modern Russian tourist is newly formed country middles class, civil servants, students, often travelling at the expense of parents, entrepreneurs, IT-specialists, freelancers and clerisy. Young and educated, globetrotters or those who have finally made their dream come true, they are knowledgeable about the traditions and are aware of what to expect in foreign countries. Russians are frequent visitors of national arts and history museums and landmark monuments. They like to learn about the place they come to see in advance and show natural respect to cultural heritage of other countries. Most Russian tourists can speak English. The opportunity to travel or study abroad is number one motivation Russian parents use in children's education.
Some recent research adds distinctive features to the portrait of the modern Russian tourist. The research concerned the behaviour of the European tourists during winter holidays. The survey held during last 3 winter seasons in skiing resorts had 3 main aspects: skiing, free time and expenses.
It turned out, that the Russians were one of the most imprudent among the Europeans in the Alps. 76% of the Russians choose red skiing slopes (most dangerous) in the Alps. Only 27% of them wore helmets even though 76% of the tourists preferred red skiing slopes. This indicator hasn't changed considerably: the number of the Russian tourists with helmets increased only by 5% for the last 3 seasons.
The Russian and British tourists turned out to be the most active in visiting clubs and parties: 35% of the Russians and 38% of the British tourists attended parties and discos every day.
As for the expenses, the Russians turned out to be the most generous nation: they tip at the average for 8% from the bill sum (The British gave 6% and the Germans just 5%). The Russians also preferred more expensive wine, than the British and German tourists. At the average the Russians were ready to pay 18 Euros for the bottle.
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