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    The sunset over Gorky Gorod ski resort at Krasnaya Polyana.

    Russian Tourists Discover Exciting Holiday Destinations in Their Own Backyard

    © Sputnik / Vladimir Sergeev
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    Russian tourism agency Rosturism has teamed up with tour operators to figure out where Russian holiday goers plan to bring in the New Year. According to airline tickets aggregator Aviasales.ru, destinations inside Russia account for about 70% of its bookings, with people discovering exciting new places to visit without ever leaving home.

    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.

    Красная поляна
    © RIA Novosti . Mikhail Mokrushin
    Krasnaya Polyana

    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.

    The promenade in Yalta
    © Sputnik / Maks Vetrov
    The promenade in Yalta

    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.

    Kislovodsk
    © Wikipedia / Nikolai Maximovich
    Kislovodsk

    In Siberia, the regions of Kemerovo (home to the famous Sheregesh ski resort) and Irkutsk are also popular destinations.

    Tourism market experts say that the 2016 holiday season has seen an increase in the number of bookings at health resorts, with interest in ski resorts also growing. They point to many affordable options for holidaymakers. For example, the price of a 5-day holiday for two, meals included, at a sanatorium outside Moscow starts from about 18,000 rubles (about $295). 

    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."

    Furthermore, Safonov added, "travel to Russia is a guarantee of security for tourists, and of positive emotions too."

    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.

    Festive illumination and the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin in Red Square
    © Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov
    Festive illumination and the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin in Red Square

    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.

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    Tags:
    tourism industry, holidaymakers, Holidays, Russian tourists, tourist trip, tourists, tourism, Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturism), Russia
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