Russian tourists travelling to the GCC are expected to generate an estimated $1.22 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023, an increase of 19 per cent when compared with figures from 2018, according to data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2020.
The latest Colliers research commissioned by Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market, predicts 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 5 per cent from $1,600 to $1,750.
Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “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.”
Building on this, Saudi Arabia is expected to witness the second largest increase closely followed by Oman, with total Russian tourism spend estimated to reach $28,659,600 and $21,788,000 respectively, by 2023.
Following recent reforms in the Kingdom, the introduction of tourism e-visas and the on-going development of Giga projects including The Red Sea Project and Amaala, Saudi Arabia is looking to capitalise on Russia’s growing tourism spend.
“Saudi Arabia’s Giga Projects, in particular, are aimed to cater to the luxury segment of the tourism market targeting high-net-worth individuals and Russia is currently ranked fourth in the world in terms of the number of billionaires residing in the country, with 303 Russians representing a total billionaire wealth of $355 billion,” Curtis said.
Looking at Russian outbound tourism figures, the country continues to be one of the top 10 source markets for the UAE, with 578,000 Russian visitors entering the UAE in 2018 and this number 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 said: “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 and Etihad Airways have also increased their flights between both countries, with Emirates introducing a third daily flight to Moscow in 2018.”
The research study by Colliers International found that while the UAE will account for the majority of Russian arrivals in the GCC, Oman will witness the second highest comparative growth at 4 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,” added Curtis.
Over the last 27 years, Russia has been well represented at ATM, with the number of visitors interested in doing business with Russia increasing 16 per cent YoY between 2018 and 2019.
Adding to this, as GCC travel and tourism companies and destinations look to attract a larger share of the Russian market, ATM 2020 will introduce new buyer forums and networking events which will explore the untapped opportunities that Russia’s expanding tourism market presents while discussing how to attract and cater to this key source market.
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia.