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Tourist numbers to Moscow drop 19% in 1Q amid financial crisis

MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - The number of foreign tourists visiting Moscow has dropped 19% in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year as the financial crisis takes hold, the city's tourist head said on Wednesday.

Grigory Antyufeyev said last year 4.1 million foreigners visited Moscow, 2% higher than in 2007. However, he said the consequences of the global financial crisis had started to be felt by Russia's tourist industry.

"Foreign tourism has dropped by 19% in comparison to the first quarter of 2008. We can only guess at what the final annual results will be," Antyufeyev said.

The tourist head said that Moscow was most popular among German tourists with Americans in second place.

In 2008, 296,858 German tourists visited Moscow, followed by 151,296 U.S. visitors with Great Britain in third place at 143,757.

Moscow tourism has been steadily increasing since 1999 when nearly 1.5 million foreigners visited the capital, in 2002 this figure reached just over 2 million. In 2005 there were almost 3.5 million foreign tourists and 3.7 million in 2006.

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