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Russian tourism to Nordic countries slows

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Finland has the highest dependency on Russian tourists

Despite the crisis in Crimea, which could possibly escalate to envelop the whole of Ukraine, it is the economic consequences that will likely have more of an impact on outbound travel from Russia to Western Europe, causing slower growth in Russian arrivals.

Euromonitor International says that the slowing economy and weakening ruble are likely to cause outbound trips to slow. Total Russian departures will increase by only 5% in 2014, Euromonitor thinks, down significantly from the 15% gain experienced in 2013.

Though Sweden sees far less Russian arrivals than the big favourites like Turkey and Spain, it still places tenth in the top 10 Western European destinations. Sweden will see 261,400 Russian arrivals in 2014, a growth of 2.5% from last year. Russians represent 2.1% of total arrivals in Sweden.

Finland, however, together with Cyprus has the highest dependency on Russian tourists. Russians are expected to account for 28% (to 1.2 million) and 23% (600,000) of total arrivals to Finland and Cyprus, respectively, in 2014. This is likely to result in slowing growth rather than outright decline.

Finland is popular for Russians thanks to a rise in shopping tours. Finland has a tax-free area for Russians while the majority of shopping centres in Helsinki accept roubles.

Turkey is a primary holiday destination for Russians thanks to its sand-and-sea offerings, all-inclusive resorts, proximity and visa-free travel. Because of its overall affordability, it is not likely to be significantly impacted by a Russian economic slowdown.

Spain and Greece are now the second and third most popular destinations in Western Europe for Russians, posting respective growth rates of 275% and 375% over 2008-13. As a destination for high-earning Russians, Spain is not likely to be impacted by economic turmoil. As a result, Spain is expected to see a 23% increase in Russian arrivals in 2014 – down a bit from the 32% gain achieved in 2013.

Greece, on the other hand, is expected to see only a 6% rise in Russian arrivals following a boom of 49% in 2013. Part of this slower growth will be due to the spike seen in 2013 but Greece is also more vulnerable to Russians shifting to less expensive non-Eurozone countries.

Euromonitor International

[photo courtesy Visit Finland]

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