Russian vacations and tours to Russia are growing in popularity each and every year due to the country's rich cultural heritage and visa regime simplification for the citizens of a number of foreign countries. What about Russian themselves? Where do the citizens of Europe's largest country go on vacation, given the fact that luxury hotels and international flights for romantic travel are in abundance now. How long is the average vacation in Russia? How do they spend holidays? Cheap flights, affordable travel insurance, lot of hotels make possible cheap travel, so it's a lot of vacation ideas for romantic travel nowadays.
According to Russian labor code the minimal length of the annual paid holiday is 28 working days including the weekends. Public holidays are not included. Some professions like teachers, university professors, research institutes staff, tutors in pre-schools institutions, public attorneys and judges enjoy longer holidays from 36 to 56 days. The legislation grants additional holidays for individuals studding at state universities. Unpaid annual vacation up to 14 days has to be provided for single mothers whose children are under 14. Working in colder climate and harmful working conditions are also the reasons for longer holidays in Russia. This makes an illusion that Russians are all-time vacations nation. Russia's vacation time is indeed enviable but the reality is a bit different. Most commercial enterprises split the holidays and let the employees take no more than 2 weeks in a row. Summer holiday is not a privilege for many. A standard length of vacation in Russia is 10-14 days unless you are a state employee.
According to the recent poll every second Russian has spent 2011 summer holiday at home or stayed at the dacha (Russian holiday home with a spot of land). According to Public Opinion Fund’s survey 44% Russian own a dacha. Only 8% travelled inside Russia on vacation. 7% went to the country’s Black Sea resorts and only 2% visited the Crimea. The percentage of Russians traveling abroad is very small - only 5% left to the foreign countries. A small minority of Russians make several trips abroad per annum.
More then a half Russians (52%) claimed they were not satisfied their holidays because they did not manage to spend it at the desired place or either were short of time for a good holiday. Others complained on high prices and poor service, lack of money and own health problems. Taking into account social status and age, the poll shows that well educated and younger part of Russia's population tend to spend their holidays abroad, middle aged people prefer the resorts of the Black sea cost, honoring the Soviet time tradition.
Uneducated and elderly people prefer to stay at home on holiday. 76 % of respondents that left their home city on holiday make the arrangements personally. Only 22 % use the services of the travel agencies. To sum it up, even though the majority of Russian would prefer a holiday abroad or on the Black Seas going out on excursions and lazing around on the beach, they stay at home or spend holiday at dacha. The reason is very simple - finance.
For those staying at home the annual vacation is the time to manage the household issues, like car or apartment maintenance, redesign, repair, renovation or changing the furniture. Except for the types of work that requires special skills or are dusty Russians perform a big amount of repair and renovation by themselves. A professional is often hired to do window block or door boxes and doors replacement, install wiring, plaster, smooth or tile walls, do works in sanitary arrangements and the kitchen, install parquet, etc. The average Russians seldom hire a supervisor to save up the expenses and which is more important to be sure everything is done properly. Painting walls, pasting wallpapers, laminating the floor, installing the plinths and curtain holders are the types of work Russians often do by themselves. The professional cleaners with special equipment are invited or the cleaning is done personally. Russians have been showing great enthusiasm in redesigning their apartments and houses lately. Repair and improvement TV shows and home design magazines are immensely popular. Building and fisnishing materials market is at its prime in Russia and up to date ideas and products are available in specialized stores and supermarkets. This all makes the idea of apartment repair very exciting.
Russian women seldom spend holidays on their own. Most of them prefer to go on vacation with a partner and children. Whereas nation's males would rather choose separate vacations. During the Soviet times workers would travel on holidays organized by their factories. They would often go without spouses. Nowadays Russia does not have a common practice of family summer vacations. Summer is a busy season for most companies and thus this question is not even discussed if both spouses have different holiday schedules. This does not make many holiday options for a regular Russian family with children.
The preference for the type of holidays also varies. Beach holidays popularity is growing annually: 39% of Russians chose beach holidays in 2011 as opposed to 30% of population in 2005. Sightseeing holidays and staying in a health resort is also popular options among Russians (up to 30 % of people choose this type of holidays). Every 4th Russian likes backpacking and hiking holidays. The growing number of Russian students and young Russians explore various possibilities of budget travelling all over Europe easily managing numerous options of travel light like cheap domestic and international airfares, hostels, accommodation, car hire, rail passes, tours and travel insurance. Many Russians willingly choose sea and river voyages both on domestic and international cruise-ships. The Golden Ring cruises and Black Sea cruises are most popular domestic offers while Caribbean, Bermuda, Gran Canaria and Bahamas cruises are more challenging and expensive international options.
Russian schoolchildren have 3 months summer holidays and thus summer childcare options for working parents is a pressing question. According to May 2011 poll the considerable part of Russian children (42%) was going to stay at home for summer holidays. Dacha was the holiday option for 18% of children. During the Soviet times children would set off to leafy communist pioneer camps. Now the pioneer camps transformed into children’s activity summer camps and are hardly affordable for the majority of Russian families. In present day the number of Russian families planning to send a child to such camp makes 12% (2011). 9% of children were supposed to spent holiday on the Black Seas shores of the Crimea and Caucasus. 8% of Russian parents said they would take children to travel together abroad (5%) or inside CIS (3%). 6% of Russians planned to send them to the relatives inside Russia.
Some Russians like going on hiking tours to the mountains, stay in a tent for a day or two or even for a week. Some have it as their best way to spend vacation, however the majority of Russians are still learning the pleasures of vacation spent in nature. For most Russians "staying in nature" involves a 100 lb pack on the shoulders, a tent pitched on an anthill and songs around a campfire. Amateur, hiking and sports tourism similar to "adventure tourism" in the West was more widespread in the Soviet Union than in any other country. After 1990, there was a sharp drop in demand for trips inside Russia, corresponding to the sharp rise in foreign travel. Most of Russia’s areas of natural beauty are measured in distances involving four or five digits. It requires ecotourists coming to Russia to purchase expensive long-distance flights. More recently, the government has been trying to promote ecotourism in Russia and thus this type of holiday is expected to have a future.
The reputation of Bulgaria resorts remained high among Russians in 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.
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