THURSDAY April 8, 2021
By Joe Lihundi
Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha, Tanzania
Tanzania tops the lists of countries which Russian tourists are allowed to visit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, tour operators in the country have been told.
Ms Claire Vuylsteke, a Russian journalist with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a print and online media house in the Asian country, said other nations in the list were Egypt, Turkey, Maldives, Greece, Tunisia, Japan, Cuba, UAE, Serbia and Montenegro.
Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar is currently an affordable destination offering sea and sun options, but there is an intense competition in Mediterranean countries when summer begins in Europe.
Ms Claire encouraged members of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) in Arusha recently to consider embarking on their marketing activities in Russia between this month and June as well as between September and November.
“Strategic timing will not only attract high profile Russian travellers for the forthcoming 2021 high season, but also make both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar their first choice destination,” said Ms Claire, adding:
“The momentum is ideal for both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar to maximise its image as a high-end destination,” Ms Claire stressed.
The Tato chief executive officer, Mr Sirili Akko, was optimistic that chartered flights and the anticipated Air Tanzania scheduled flight to Moscow would help to secure arrivals of customers looking for luxurious experiences.
Ms Claire said with a population of 146.7 million people, Russia, the 9th populace country globally, was one of the fastest-growing outbound markets in the world.
“In 2019, Russia ranked 5th globally with the highest number of billionaires after the US, China, Germany and India,” she said.
Russians made 48, 072, 285 trips to 176 foreign countries and territories during the year, equivalent to 31 per cent growth compared to 2018.
Russian tourists’ spending on travel rose by 15 per cent in 2019, overtaking China and Southeast Asia, as it has grown by 10 per cent compared to the seven per cent growth of America.
“In total, Russia travelers spend over $40 billion, the highest amount than any other country in the world,” she said.
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While 76 per cent of Russians are willing to take new trips, 48 per cent have the desire to see the world. Nearly 3 million Russian tourists traveled abroad in 2020.
A Russian spends an average of $1,676 per a foreign holiday trip, higher than a European’s $1,174. While at the destination, he stays for an average of 10 nights, two nights longer than the global average.
A Russian travels 4.3 trips per year on average, distributing 51 per cent of his expenditure on transport and accommodation prior to the trip and the reminder on services on offer at the destination.
“It is important to adapt the local offer to the amount the traveler will have spent before the trip,” Ms Claire cautioned the tour operators.
About 70 per cent of Russian tourists use bank cards when they plan their trips, with barely 7 per cent of them using Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) abroad, compared to 17 per cent of European tourists.
“It is important to offer online payment and card payment solutions,” says Ms Claire, adding that 51 per cent of Russian tourists used agencies while the remainder preferred self-booking.
About 34 per cent of Russian tourists book six months before their trips, 19 per cent between three and six months before and 47 per cent three months before, including 18 per cent last minute.
Russian tourists travel, stay longer and spend much when children are on holiday between June and August and during New Year and Orthodox Christmas from December 31 to January 10.
Attitudes towards COVID-19
About 56 per cent of Russians are generally not afraid of Covid-19, including 31 per cent of them who are not afraid of the pandemic at all.
On their way back home, Russians are required to have polymerase chain reaction (PRC) test for them to be allowed entry.
About 77 per cent take more precautions due to the pandemic while 51 per cent avoid traveling to certain destinations they consider unsafe.
About 71 per cent book an accommodation only if they were provided with detailed information on health and safety measures.
About 69 per cent prefer accommodation facilities furnished with latest technological solutions to help guests feel safe.
“It’s important to digitalise your offer and maximise online presence while maintaining flexibility,” said Ms Claire, explaining that 56 per cent of Russian tourists like to be acquainted with their future accommodation facility using virtual reality technologies before traveling.
Cancellation and refund policies
Ms Claire cautioned the TATO members that 61 per cent of Russians tourists pay more attention to prices when planning a trip, while 64 per cent follow special offers and promotions.
She said 82 per cent expect more transparency from online booking platforms regarding the cancellation, refund, and insurance policies.
“Refunds on cancellations are extremely important to about 60 per cent of Russian tourists, with 28 per cent of them preferring to be able to change their dates of stay for free,” she explained.