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Crimea vs Sochi

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Crimea vs Sochi

05.08.2015


One of the surprises of the summer: the mass of tourists between longtime rivals - Sochi and the Crimea - Crimea chooses

Tourists voting with their feet

The Dorokhov family from Moscow closed the option of Sochi for themselves. To be more exact, they bought a 2-week tour to the apart-hotel "Panda shelter" in Krasnaya Polyana, where they went skiing in winter, but kept away from in summer. Booking the hotel beforehand, the Dorokhovs were ready to pay 33 thousand rubles per person for 12 days ( the family consists of 4 people).
However, on the ground it turned out that for daily transfer to the sea (about 35 km) and dinner they needed to fork out almost 10000 rubles per person.

The family head's argument that according to the preliminary agreement the board and the transfer were included into the cost of the tour, encountered the blunt courtesy of the personnel - "You can go for another hotel".

Thus, using their own car and the ferry the Dorokhov family got to the Black Sea Crimean resort by Yevpatoria - a childhood memory for the Father.

"And we didn't regret anything", Denis Dorokhov recounts, the same two weeks cost at most 25 thousand rubles per person including board and excursions.

He says that emotions, not money, that mattered most, and they had a decent amount for holiday.

"We had a good rest, went around everywhere, didn't economize on excursions and food", Denis talks about his impressions, "and most important is that kids are happy, they don't care if there is a fan or air conditioner, or what the furniture roads are like.

Apparently, the majority of Russians follow Dorokhovs' example.

According to the Russian Tourism Industry Union (RTU), as many as 9% in June and 11-14 % in July cancelled prepaid holidays in Sochi, followed by moving to Anapa (7% of people who cancelled), the Azov Sea (12%) and to Crimea ( 81%).

According to RTU this coincides with Dorokhov family's transfer experience, the tourism flow increased by 16-20 % because the transport problem has been at least partly solved. The port 'Caucus' and the port 'Crimea' ferry started working more intensively, more importantly the number of trains, which are used by 70% of tourists, increased.

Today the Simferopol airport serves about 20 thousand passengers everyday, compared to 12-14 thousand last year. In comparison, the much more capable international airport in Sochi, with a capacity of 100 thousand people a day, receives a little less than 25 thousand. Kerch ferry is used by approximately 30 thousand passengers a day in contrast to 15-18 thousand in 2014, where, thanks to a better organized system, the ferry queues have been reduced.

It seems that this is just the beginning of summer 2015 surprises, according to the online air ticket booking systems, the number of flights to Crimea from the regions rose sharply and keeps increasing. The Western (Omsk and Tomsk) and Eastern (Chita and especially Krasnoyarsk) and even Primorye. From these regions the flight increase constitutes 800%. Where Simferopol outnumbers Sochi almost three-fold in plane ticket sales.

To sum up, as of the beginning of August the sanatoriums and hotels of Crimea are on average 64% busier than last year, while the demand for tours to Sochi and Geledzhik, the hit of the last season, is falling. The reason is the increase in price. Moreover, there are more and more complaints coming form tourists who paid for the tour beforehand and on the ground they are asked to pay more for various expenses, and although it is early to talk about the competition between Crimea and Sochi (Crimea lacks the modern tourist infrastructure), the conclusion from the resort season 2015 is obvious; the tourist votes with their feet against the monopoly of upgraded new Sochi, moving to " Soviet-like" Crimea.

However, Crimea with the flow of Russian tourists starts seeing the changes in resort infrastructure. Before 2014 many Belarusian and Ukranian tourists who comprised the majority of holidaymakers on the peninsula, preferred to stay in small resort villages, in particular in private sector or in the houses with private commodities.

Now the private sector does not have enough tourists and houses with private commodities (campsites, hostels) are a third less loaded.

Russians, neither individuals nor package tourists visit. If they choose private sector, they prefer full facilities, regardless of the type of holiday, package or independent.

However, the excursions are purchased more often and more money is spent in cafes, canteens and restaurants. So the direction for Crimea is more organized and comfortable tourism, such as that established in Sochi.

In this sense Crimea has all chances to take not only Sochi's but other countries' fair share of Russian tourists, maybe not so wealthy, but wise to find good value for money. As not only Europe but even Turkey, so popular during the last 20 years, experienced the slowdown of the flow of Russian tourists. The weakening of ruble exchange rate and rising prices for holidays in Turkey lead to the fact that the demand for tours to this country decreased by 20%.

So, if Crimea, as it was promised, will manage to create the modern tourist cluster and the super bridge over the Kerch Channel will be built without delays then it has all chances to become rival destination for tourists.
The expectations of the public are infamous. As according to the survey conducted by All-Russia-Public-Opinion Research, 7% of Russian are planning to spend a holiday abroad, 25% within the country, 44% at home or in the country house, 24% haven't decided yet.

So, almost 70% of those who hesitate are potentially ready to go to Crimea or the Krasnodar region.

The former just needs to upgrade the tourist infrastructure, while the latter to recover from the greed disease, and the tourists will come.
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