The travel data experts at ForwardKeys are here to guide the travel industry through the murky waters, muddied by a pandemic that has confused travellers, and even confused politicians and health experts with the travel regulations and tests required. Relying on quantitively calculated, real-time air ticketing data, this week we reveal Russia as a travel market worth investing in.

Inbound Russia Tourism

In 2020, there was a rise in demand for domestic travel and some markets even recovered to 2019 levels.

Looking ahead for the first four months of 2021, tickets for domestic travel in Russia and Brazil had reached 88% and 70% of 2019 volumes by 20 January 2021.

“Last minute bookings are one of the rising trends since the pandemic started, so the number of tickets is expected to grow faster than before, closer to the travel date,” says Lorena Garcia, Senior Analyst at ForwardKeys.


“Examining the top destinations in Russia, cities such as Sochi, Novosibirsk and Kaliningrad are popular destinations for people keen to explore their local and vast backyard in Russia, as tickets advanced at a faster pace,” adds Garcia.

Assuming that no additional lockdown measures are imposed in these countries, there is a good chance that volumes for domestic travel could reach and even surpass 2019 levels during the first 4 months of the year.

Outbound Russia Travel

Russian travellers are not only keen to travel within Russia but also to explore more exotic destinations. Let’s take a look at Dubai and the Maldives.

Once Russia lifted its travel ban to the UAE on 3 September, air tickets to Dubai started to pick up. The increase was most noticeable from the beginning of November and reached 2019 levels in January 2021.

“Over the years, the UAE has been an increasingly popular destination for Russians, particularly during their cold winter season,” says Garcia.

Looking at arrivals to the destination for the last quarter of 2020 the ticketing data shows that Russians are enjoying longer stays in Dubai. The average number of nights spent in Dubai almost doubled, going from an average of 4.7 nights in Q4 2019 to 8.2 nights in Q4 2020.


A newcomer to the affluent Russian traveller market is the Maldives. The Maldives has become the hottest destination for Russian travellers at the start of 2021. As per bookings issued by 20 January for travel up to April 21, tickets to the Maldives were advancing the fastest, ahead by +44%, while tickets for total international travel lagged by 87% when compared to 2020 levels.

“It is with great contentment I note that the Russian market is now the top market in terms of arrivals to the destination since we have reopened our borders in July 2020. Our initial strategies for the market had to be completely shifted due to the pandemic. We altered our focus to utilize online & digital platforms to maintain the destination presence and partnered with some of the leading Russian tourism-related organizations, operators, travel agents and travel TV channels in order to spread knowledge about our destination to boost arrivals from Russia,” says Mr Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of Visit Maldives.


International versus Domestic travel in 2021?

Russian departures to international destinations for visits of at least 1 night, as per air tickets issued on 10 Feb 2021 to travel between January and April 2021 are down by -83.7% YoY when compared to the same period last year.

Besides travelling to the Maldives, where the issued tickets are on the rise, Russian ticketing volumes to Egypt are ahead by 40.5% for travel between January – April 2021.

Turkey, which was able to attract a stable number of Russian travellers over the summer due to its bilateral flight corridor, is down this year by -45.9%.

“All this data on the diminishing numbers of international departures acts to highlight a key trend that is here to stay in 2021 – this will be the year of expanding new business opportunities on your local markets through domestic tourism,” concludes Garcia.

That is, until the current on/off travel restrictions and conditions for long haul travel have one single agreed policy, allowing more planes to fly which can safely take eager holidaymakers to their much-desired holiday destination.

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