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GCC to see boom in Russian tourists

GCC to see boom in Russian tourists

The strengthening Russian economy and more favourable entry policies are expected to boost demand

The Gulf Cooperation Council region is expected to see a 38 per cent jump in Russian visitors from 2016 to 2020, according to a new report.

The research study by Colliers International found that the stable value of the Russian rouble and an increase oil prices to above $68 a barrel were expected to see Russian tourists return to the region at a rapid pace.

The UAE’s decision to grant Russian citizens visas on arrival early last year is also seen as boosting demand that had been stymied by the weakness of the Russian economy in recent years.

Read: UAE to grant visas on arrival to Russian visitors

In the first three quarters of 2017, Dubai saw 98 per cent more Russian tourists year-on-year and the country was ranked one of the emirate’s top 10 source markets.

Read: Dubai sees 7.5% increase in tourists in first 9 months of 2017

Flydubai also expanded its Russian network last year adding flights to Makhachkala, Voronezh and Ufa, and daily flights to a second airport in Moscow – Sheremetyevo International.

Read: Flydubai begins flights to Montenegro, three Russian cities

Elsewhere in the UAE, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah saw 41 per cent more Russian arrivals in the first quarter.
In the Gulf, Oman is expected to see the highest compound annual growth rate of Russian visitors, at 9.2 per cent after the sultanate also relaxed visa rules for Russian passport holders.

Read: Oman relaxes visa rules for tourists from Russia, India, China

Saudi Arabia will also see a 20 per cent increase in Russian visitors by 2020, according to the report, which was commissioned by regional event Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

“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. As those factors begin to steady, we are seeing more and more Russian visitors arrive and we expect this to continue, said ATM senior exhibition director Simon Press.

“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 food and beverage venues, resorts, theme parks and malls, which all appeal to Russian visitors.”

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