Russians are not coming

MOSCOW – The rise in tourist arrivals from Russia to Greece is showing clear signs of ending this year, with Greek hoteliers recording a 20 percent decline in reservations to date. However it is still too early to make reliable forecasts about the course of tourism traffic from the Russian market for the entire year as the number of bookings remains very small, said the president of the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, Andreas Andreadis, in Moscow. It will be safer to draw conclusions at the end of April, he suggests. The Russian capital yesterday saw the opening of the Moscow International Travel and Tourism (MITT) exhibition, in which the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is also participating with its own stand. Rival destinations are also receiving negative signals from the Russian market, with the state tourism agency in Russia projecting a drop in outgoing tourism of up to 25 percent in terms of the number of overnight stays of Russians in Europe and more remote destinations this year. The depreciation of the ruble against the euro, the ongoing international economic crisis and low oil prices are among the main factors for the decline in outgoing tourism from Russia. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis visited the exhibition and announced that new visa centers will be opened in Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk by end-April. This will help Russians secure their visas much more easily than at present, as they now have to travel to Moscow, often a trip that itself costs up to 1,000 euros. Sources suggest that talks are under way for more visa centers at Rostov and Samara. The president of the GNTO, Yiannis Kofinis, said that the excellent political relations between Greece and Russia can be used to the advantage of tourism, adding that Greece has launched its biggest tourism advertising campaign to date, costing at least 75 million euros.

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