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“The only place cheaper is home” – tourists visiting Russia take advantage of the weak rouble

In 2014 tourist numbers visiting Russia were in decline, with Moscow’s three airports registering a seven per cent drop in arrivals. Now, however, as a result of the weak rouble the Russian Federal Tourism Agency expects an increase in visitors from Germany and other Western European countries. “The only place cheaper is home“, says Sergei Spilko, chairman of Moscow’s Tourism and Hotel Industry Committee, with a smile. Under the heading of ’Time to visit Russia’, the campaign organised by Russian exhibitors at ITB Berlin 2015 is indeed focused on foreign tourists being able to spend more money. According to Sergei Korneev, the deputy head of the tourism agency and vice president of the Russian Tourism Association, the aim is to draw attention to other destinations besides the metropolitan regions of Moscow and St. Petersburg. In May new offices are due to open in Berlin. Other destinations include the cities of the ’golden ring’ northeast of Moscow, among them Uglich, Susdal, Yaroslavl and the ancient Tatar city of Kazan, a perfect example of peaceful coexistence between orthodox Christians and Islamists, as well as Samara on the River Volga, Yekaterinburg, the gateway to Siberia, and the wild Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East.
As the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics Sochi occupies a special role and is an important centre of tourism on the Black Sea. Asked about tourist numbers Korneew said: “After an event like the Winter Olympics the city needs to pick itself up again. This year was a test run. We had lots of visitors from China. Everything will be ok!”     Robert Kluge

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