Consumers in Russia regard spending on travel and holidays as a top priority, according to exclusive research unveiled this week at the WTM Vision Conference – Moscow.
Forecasts by Euromonitor International reveal that holidays are the most popular sector for expenditure – above categories such as cinema/theatre visits, new technology and clothing/footwear.
A third of Russians quizzed said they expect to spend more on travel/holidays, and half expect spending to remain the same, while fewer than 18% said they would spend less.
Only ‘saving’ ranked above spending on travel/holidays in the survey of Russian spending habits over the coming 12 months (carried out in October 2013).
Vitalij Vladykin, Senior Research Analyst at Euromonitor International, will present the research, showing how Russia’s outbound tourism continues to perform more strongly than inbound – but both are predicted to grow between 2013 and 2018.
“New legislation regulating tour operators will boost consumer confidence and the outbound market,” he said.
However, it is hoped that the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 will raise the country’s profile and boost inbound visitor numbers, helping to redress the balance.
However, Russia’s role in post-revolution Ukraine could cast a shadow over tourism.
Domestic tourism trips within Russia are forecast to grow strongly over the next five years, with Kostroma, Volgograd and Nizhni Novgorod regions showing the highest percentage growth rates.
Meanwhile, hotel chains are targeting business travellers by moving into second-tier cities such as Krasnodar, Primorye and Nizhni Novgorod.
A key area is the online market, said Vladykin, adding: “Travel is one of the country’s e-commerce success stories and is poised to expand.”
Russia has the largest market in Europe in terms of internet users and mobile subscriptions, and mobile phone penetration increased to reach 98% of households in 2012.
Vladykin said: “The proportion of the population using the internet expanded from 25% in 2007 to 53% in 2012.
“Russia’s urban areas are hotspots of demand for tablets and smartphones.”
His findings for the Russian market are mirrored in Euromonitor International’s global travel and tourism research.
This shows that global tourism remains vibrant, with record arrival numbers in 2013, and online bookings and mobile payments are becoming increasingly common.
Euromonitor International’s global research also shows that spending on travel is a top-three priority for consumers, and emerging markets remain the focus for growth among many international hotel groups.
Vladykin will also discuss trends affecting social media, the sharing economy, luxury travel and technological developments such as holograms and Google Glass.
Following his presentation are other expert speakers debating trends within the Russian market.
Valentin Dombrowski, Vice President for Innovations at Excursiopedia.com, will explore the development of online travel, and Alexander Lobanov, Chief Executive of the Booking Center TBG, is investigating what hinders the development of online booking of tour packages.
Dombrowski and Lobanov will be joined by other experts to debate these issues on a panel discussion.
These experts are: Ivor Vukelik, Director of Sales and Marketing, TUI Travel Russia; Kirill Zubkov, Commercial Director, Level.travel; and Andrey Shishkin, Deputy Managing Director, Sletat.ru.
The second part of the conference will cover social media with expert Ilona Dyachenko, who will talk about the development of travel agent sales through social media; and Dmitry Kravchenko, Senior Manager of Customer Relations at Real Web, will offer tips for agents and operators about online sales.
The conference will close after a report by Russian search engine Yandex and a panel discussion about online reviews and social networks.
World Travel Market, Conference and Seminar Manager, Charlotte Sutton, who will open the event, said: “The report’s findings demonstrate how Russia’s position as a major global force in the travel and tourism industry will be further cement over the next few years.
“The Russian hunger for overseas travel makes it one of the most important outbound markets, while inbound tourism is also predicted to increase.”
WTM Vision – Moscow is the first in the 2014 series of six WTM Vision conferences.
Organised in association with Tour Business and Profi.Travel, it takes place on Wednesday 9 April from 9.30am at the Golden Ring Hotel.
All conference delegates will receive a free copy of the exclusive Euromonitor International Report (worth £1,000) .
The Sao Paulo event takes place on 25 April, followed by Dubai and Shanghai on 6 and 8 May respectively. WTM Vision – Rimini takes place on 9 October.