Coronavirus, tourist flow and spending of Russians abroad. Sberbank analyzes international tourism evolution in 2019–2020

Mar 12, 2020
  • Typical daily spending of Russian tourist abroad is RUB 5,575
  • Italy and the US are among mass destinations with highest daily tourist spending. Less money per day spent in Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia
  • Coronavirus almost zeroes tourist flow to China. Number of tourists to Italy down by almost one third in late February y-o-y

March 12, 2020, Moscow — SberData, Sberbank’s big data analytics and processing lab, has analyzed how Russians spend their holidays abroad. Analysts learnt about the most popular travel destinations and Russian tourists’ spending in 2019–2020.

The total amount of Russians’ spending abroad in summer 2019 was RUB 128.7 bln and during New Year period (from December 15, 2019 to January 15, 2020) was RUB 30.4 bln. The study covers traveler spending in a country, excluding air tickets and hotel booking.

The tourist activity of Russians significantly grew in 2019. The number of tourists in the summer season increased by 6% compared to 2018 and in the winter holidays it added 11.1% y-o-y.

Tourist spending dropped by 3.4% compared to 2018, but it can be explained by the exchange rate changes: consumers saved about RUB 7.3 bln.

The most popular summer destination is Turkey, accounting for about 15.6% of the whole tourist flow from Russia (+13.4% y-o-y). This destination was chosen by 67 regions.

Typical (median) daily spending abroad is RUB 5,575. This is not always the spending for one person, as during family trips transactions are often made using one card, but goods and services are bought for many tourists.

In 2019, vacations in Italy, the US, the UAE and France were twice as expensive as in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, and Turkey. The winter spending is usually higher than the summer one. Interestingly, Italy is one of the most expensive destinations due to high expenses in the Clothes and Shoes category, accounting for one third of all spending in the country (RUB 3,400 out of RUB 10,200 daily).

In winter, last season leader Thailand was ousted by Finland (4.1% tourist flow compared to 4.2%). Russians actively travelled to new winter destinations: the number of trips to the US increased significantly (from 1.8% to 2.7%). This is one of the most expensive destinations (daily spending RUB 9,600).

Russian tourists withdraw money in Europe less often (from 12.9% transactions in Netherlands to 39% in Germany); the US is almost at the same level (38%). In the states that are not parts of euro and dollar zones withdrawals exceeded 50% (except for the UAE and Turkey), and in China the figure reached 84%.

Amid coronavirus tourist flow to China dropped almost to zero. The decrease started in mid-January and now, according to SberData, the number of Russians who went to China plummeted 93% y-o-y. After long weekends coinciding with February 23, the number of trips to Europe also started to drop quickly, with Italy emerging as the top loser. According to Sberbank, the number of Russian tourists decreased by 28% in late February. Preliminary data show that the situation kept getting worse in early March.

The number of trips to Germany, France and Spain also decreased, but it happened in last days of the month. It is likely that the negative impact will be more evident in March. At the same time, the total tourist flow from Russia is not seen to decrease, but all main destinations reached their peak in the last ten days of February. The average daily growth in the number of tourists in the second half of January and February is 8.5% y-o-y even as the number of coronavirus cases increases globally.