The number of Russian tourists travelling to the GCC in 2020 is expected to be 38 percent higher than the arrival figures recorded for 2016, according to new data.
The figures, published by Arabian Travel Market 2018, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre in April, represents a "significant boost to the regional tourism industry".
Commissioned by ATM, ahead of its 25th edition, the research study by Colliers International found that while the UAE will account for the majority of Russian arrivals, Oman will experience the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR), at 9.2 percent.
The Colliers research also revealed UAE visitors to Russia were forecast to increase by 15 percent in 2018, compared to 2016, as Russia hosts the World Cup.
Looking at the economic drivers, the value of the Russian rouble is stable and firming gradually, helped by Russia’s decision to join OPEC and cut oil production, which has supported an oil price recovery to over $60 per barrel, while forecasts for 2018 put oil at an average of $57 per barrel, a 5.6 percent increase over 2017.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “Traditionally, the GCC has always been popular with Russian tourists but over recent years, we have witnessed some fluctuations in their arrival rates across the GCC, which was a reflection of volatility in the financial and energy markets.
"As those factors begin to steady, we are seeing more and more Russian visitors arrive and we expect this to continue,” he added.
He said Russia’s links with the GCC strengthened in 2017 with the introduction of additional airline routes and visas on arrival in the UAE for Russians.
“An increase of 38 percent on 2016 arrival figures provides a significant boost to the regional tourism industry and is supported by a number of stakeholders, from immigration initiatives, to the region’s hotels, its F&B venues, resorts, theme parks and malls, which all appeal to Russian visitors,” Press said.
Dubai reported a 98 percent year-on-year increase in the number of Russian arrivals during the first nine months of 2017, and the country is one of the emirate’s top 10 source markets.
Further supporting the demand, flydubai twice extended its Russian network in 2017, adding flights to Makhachkala, Voronezh and Ufa, and daily flights to a second airport in Moscow - Sheremetyevo International.
Despite the UAE and Oman leading comparative growth, Saudi Arabia is predicted to witness an increase of at least 20 percent in Russian visitors to the kingdom by 2020, according to the report.
Press added: “Russia is once again turning to the GCC for its year-round sunshine, world-class hotels and resorts and fast-paced leisure and safe investment landscape.”
ATM welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.
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