Global study of hoteliers underlines Russia’s status as the world’s fifth biggest travel market
Fuelled by its growing middle class and rising spending power, Russia is experiencing an outbound travel boom like never before, according to research by Hotels.com, which today publishes its Russian International Travel Monitor (RITM). Almost half (49 per cent) of hoteliers surveyed worldwide have seen a rise in Russian guests in the last year, with 54 per cent of those hoteliers seeing bookings grow by more than 10 per cent or more.
Russia is now the world’s second fastest growing outbound travel market in terms of spend, up 32 per cent in 2012 and more than doubling since 2005. The RITM examines how hoteliers are reacting to this rapid growth, which last year saw Russians spend $43 billion on travel abroad, making Russia the fifth biggest outbound travel market globally.
In 2012, 35.7 million tourists from Russia took a foreign trip, up from just 7.7 million in 2006. The country has become a top performing growth market for many destinations and international outbound travel is forecast to grow by 7.5 per cent per year on average to 2017. However, with a population of over 140 million, there is still a huge untapped market for foreign travel that will create demand for different types of holiday and new destinations that are bound to make an impact on the pattern of world tourism.
Johan Svanstrom, president of the Hotels.com brand said: “The meteoric rise of Russia’s outbound travel market is providing a welcome boost to hoteliers worldwide, with Russians among the highest spenders on hotel rooms globally. The rising size and spending power of middle class travellers is a key driver behind this growth. Standing 104 million strong today, the group is set to account for 86 per cent of the country’s population by 2020, with a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion. 
Many hoteliers also supported this fact as 43 per cent said that Russians are now spending more money on their travels. Moreover, they are becoming more confident and independent, with improved foreign language skills. More than half (53 per cent) already book their accommodation online with only 32 per cent opting for a traditional travel agent.
With 92 per cent of the hoteliers questioned expecting the volume of Russian visitors to increase over the next three years, many are making changes to deliver a warmer welcome. Almost a third (32 per cent) of hoteliers have already started to offer Russian TV channels while more than a fifth (23 per cent) have hired Russian-speaking staff, with a further 12 per cent planning to do so.
To ensure that Russian guests have a more relaxing stay, 15 per cent of hoteliers plan to offer translated welcome materials, in addition to the 20 per cent that already do so, and a further 15 per cent plan to start providing translated tourism guides. Eleven per cent plan to start serving Russian food.
Hotels.com surveyed 2,500 hoteliers from 37 countries for the RITM. To download a copy of the report, visit http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/files/2013/11/RITM_FINAL_WEB_V3.pdf (English) or http://press.hotels.com/en-gb/files/2013/11/RITM_RUSSIA_FINAL.pdf (Russian)
 World Tourism Organisation, April 2013: http://dtxtq4w60xqpw.cloudfront.net/sites/all/files/pdf/tsen_0.pdf
 European Travel Commission: European Tourism 2013: Trends & Prospects