Krasnodar region, situated in Russia's southwest along the northeast shores of the Black Sea, took first place among search queries on popular aggregator service sletat.ru, accounting for 66.62% of all queries, according to Russian business journal Expert Online. Popular destinations in the region include Sochi, the ski resort town of Krasnaya Polyana, Anapa, Krasnodar and resorts sprinkled across the territory's rural areas.
The second most popular travel destination is Crimea, accounting for 24.28% of all searches. Tourism to the peninsula has increased by over 20% this year compared to 2015, with 5.5 million holiday goers coming to the area's cities and resorts.
Expert magazine calculates that the minimum cost of a 5-day vacation for two to these popular southern Russian destinations ranges from 25,000 rubles (about $410 US) for a trip to Yalta, Crimea, to 34,500 rubles (about $570 US) for a ski vacation at Krasnaya Polyana.
Other popular searches on sletat.ru this year include Karelia, and the Dombay and Mount Elbrus resorts in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, which neighbors Krasnodar.
Also popular are Stavropol region's famous health resorts, including Kislovodsk, Yessentuki, Pyatigorsk, Mineralnye Vody, and Zheleznovodsk.
In Siberia, the regions of Kemerovo (home to the famous Sheregesh ski resort) and Irkutsk are also popular destinations.
Pointing to the growing interest in holiday destinations inside their home country among Russian tourists, Rosturism head Oleg Safonov explained that the popularity of these destinations stems from considerations including variety, price and safety. "Russian regions," he said, "offer a variety of travel options to suit all tastes and budgets, from a relaxed spa retreat to extreme ski tourism."
Over the last few years, Russians have altered the choices they make regarding their holidaymaking plans thanks to several factors, including a deterioration of relations with European countries, recession, as well as safety concerns in traditionally popular destinations like Egypt and Turkey.
In addition to health resorts and ski hills, holidaymakers are traveling to celebrate the New Year in the cities of Moscow and its suburbs, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, Kaliningrad, Vologda, Yaroslavl and the Republic of Tatarstan, according to sletat.ru.
Popular foreign destinations for the holidays this year include Thailand, Goa, the UAE and Vietnam, with Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico rounding out the top spots. The average cost of a trip to Thailand is 170,000 rubles (about $2,800), while a two-week getaway to Goa will set a traveler back a minimum of 126,000 rubles ($2,075). Turkey is cheaper, averaging about 50,000 rubles ($825), but the winter is holiday areas' offseason.
According to calculations by airline ticket aggregator service aviasales.ru, Russian destinations account for about 70% of total bookings this holiday season.