Strelbitsky noted that the overwhelming majority of Russians come to the peninsula bypassing Ukraine. "If Europe were to somehow begin taking account of Russian tourists who come to the peninsula by other means, and decides to deprive them of the opportunity to visit the Old World, it will be a very big blow to tourism in Europe itself," Strelbitsky stated. "If they took such a step, they would lose all their tourists," the minister added.
Strelbitsky noted that the European tourism industry has already suffered a significant blow from the loss of tourists from Russia. Over the first quarter of 2015, the number of Russians vacationing abroad declined by over 1.28 million people, with traditionally popular European destinations of Spain, Italy and Greece losing between 29-41 percent of their Russian visitors.
On June 18, the Russian non-governmental organization Consumer Rights Protection Society (OZPP) issued a memo on its site warning Russians that they should request permission from Ukrainian authorities to enter Crimea, warning that "after visiting Crimea without the permission of Ukrainian authorities, Russians may be refused visas, including those of the Schengen area. We have seen such cases. There is also the risk of harassment from Ukrainian authorities."
Over the past year-and-a-half, Russian tourism abroad has declined significantly, made up for by a dramatic increase in domestic tourism. Crimean cities have been dominating lists of top seaside resort and sanatoria vacation destinations. Sanctions, the falling purchasing power of the ruble, and a wave of patriotism have accounted for the dramatic growth in domestic tourism.