All eyes were on Russia in 2018 for the FIFA World Cup, which was believed to be a contributing factor for international tourism to the country during that year. Markets including the United States, Brazil, Spain and China had among the highest interest in travel for the tournament, despite not all the countries’ teams qualifying. In fact, travelers from the United States represented a 12.4 percent share of the total growth in inbound tourism in Russia for the FIFA World Cup.
While authorities hope to sustain interest in travel to destinations across Russia, the outlook for the outbound travel market also appears positive. Following the Russian financial crisis, the number of outbound departures from Russia substantially increased in 2017. The collapse of the Russian rouble in 2014-2015 naturally affected the level of often costly travel abroad from Russia. However, average spend of residents on outbound travel increased in line with the recovery of the rouble in 2016 and 2017 and total expenditure is expected to increase to 3,202 billion roubles by 2028.
The choice of destination for Russian tourists tends to depend largely on where in the country the traveler resides. Those residing in the Far Eastern federal district are more likely to travel to Asia, for example, than those in the more westerly cities of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, who tend to visit Europe. For those traveling westwards, countries situated geographically closer to Russia tend to be more visited. Turkey, after suffering a decline in tourism in 2016, recovered to become one of the most visited outbound destinations among Russian tourists in the following years, along with Abkhazia and Finland. Azerbaijan and Georgia were also growing in popularity among Russian tourists in 2017.