Tour operators named the TOP 5 most booked destinations in Russia for city tours and weekend tours in the 2023 season. Experts also told about the destinations where a weekend trip will cost up to 10 thousand rubles per person.
DEMAND FOR SHORT TRIPS ACROSS RUSSIA HAS INCREASED DUE TO THEIR AVAILABILITY
According to the consolidated estimates of tour operators, the demand for city tours and weekend sightseeing tours in Russia in the summer of 2023 increased by 15-20% compared to last year.
As experts explain, this trend is not accidental: most tourists cannot afford to spend the entire vacation on a trip, and therefore people are increasingly splitting their holidays into several periods, one of which is traveling to domestic destinations.
“Despite the fact that the average cost of weekend tours increased by 20% compared to last year, the demand for short trips has increased. The main reason is the relative cheapness, including tourists paying less for short–term hotel accommodation. The number of day trips has increased significantly,” says the director of the domestic market of the tour operator Coral Travel Alyona Gromova.
“For most Russians, an excursion trip in summer is usually a short trip, and therefore it should be on a budget,” notes ATOR Vice President and General director of the Dolphin tour operator Sergey Romashkin.
According to market participants, another factor in the growth of demand for short trips is the desire of tourists to travel individually. This trend is related both to the habits formed during the pandemic and the desire of people to spend more time with their family.
As a result, as told in the Russian Express company, there is a great demand for hotels with accommodation with children (2 adults + a child, 2 adults + 2 children) and demand for apartment hotels.
“About half of the applications for short tours are for group arrivals and about 50% for individual bookings,” the press service of the Intourist tour operator adds. According to the observations of FUN&SUN, tourists are increasingly choosing hotels of a higher category for short-term tours.
THE DYNAMICS OF SALES OF SHORT TOURS IS HIGHER THAN THAT OF CLASSIC EXCURSION PROGRAMS
Due to the above factors, the share of short trips and weekend tours in the total sales structure is growing faster than the share of longer classic excursion programs, according to tour operators.
“Classic group sightseeing tour programs are now in less demand: there is a decline of 20-30%. Tourists often choose options with accommodation in the city center and one or two group excursions,” the Russian Express says.
The dynamics of sales of short tours varies depending on the region. For example, Intourist’s unambiguous destination-the leader in growth this year were city tours and short sightseeing tours to Kazan and Tatarstan (+56%), while St. Petersburg and Moscow, the traditional leaders, which account for the largest volume of sales of sightseeing tours in any season, show a more modest increase.
PAC Group experts also pay attention to the rise in interest in short trips (4-5 days) to distant regions – Kamchatka, Baikal, the Putorana Plateau (Krasnoyarsk Territory), Vladivostok. It is clear that, given the long flight, such trips cannot be accommodated in 2-3 days, so tourists invest more time or seek to combine travel with a holiday weekend.
TOP 5 MOST BOOKED DOMESTIC DESTINATIONS FOR WEEKEND TOURS
Tour operators have named the TOP 5 most booked domestic destinations for short trips and weekend tours.
The unambiguous leader is St. Petersburg. Followed by Moscow, Kazan, the cities of the Golden Ring and Nizhny Novgorod.
“St. Petersburg is the constant leader among urban destinations. Many people want to visit the Northern capital in the summer. July is perfect – there is a chance of good sunny weather, prices are also falling after the high season of “white nights”. Moscow is also in demand: tourists are attracted by a variety of objects to explore and activities for every taste and interest. Moscow has a very busy summer event calendar. There are many interesting places in Kazan for hiking and photo shoots. The traditional points of tourist routes are the Tugan Avylym ethnic village and the residence of the Tatar Santa Claus Kysh Babai,” the press service of the National Tour Operator ALEAN explains the choice of tourists.
According to Sergey Romashkin from “Dolphin”, the main audience of short weekend tours are middle–aged and slightly less than middle-aged people. They are active and mobile in their plans, so they are ready to book tours closer to the arrival dates. As they add in the Russian Express, last minute hotels and apartments are usually booked for 1-3 nights in the budget segment.
According to the observations of experts of the tour operator “Multitour”, the demand for a tourist destination depends on its transport accessibility. If the city and the region have problems with this, then this leads to a rare frequency of arrivals and a limited number of places in the excursion programs.
As they add in Intourist, Moscow and St. Petersburg differ in the shortest booking depth, where everything is fine with transport. In these two cities, bookings can arrive literally on the eve of arrival, in other directions the depth is higher and on average reaches about a month.
“There is a direct correlation: the more and more diverse the transportation on the route, the lower the booking depth,” Intourist emphasizes.
According to FUN&SUN, tours to the Moscow region, Nizhny Novgorod and tours along the Golden Ring routes are also booked closest to the arrival dates.
TOURISTS ON SHORT TOURS CHOOSE TRAIN OR CAR
Sergey Romashkin also draws attention to the peculiarities in the choice of transport by which tourists get to their destination on short trips. According to him, as part of weekend tours, tourists mostly travel around their region or neighboring regions, choosing personal vehicles, bus tours or trains for this purpose.
“If there is a choice – to travel by train or by plane, most will prefer the train, even if it is more expensive than an airplane. For many tourists, it is also a matter of saving time. Flights taking into account pre–flight procedures and the road to the airport require more time in short tours, while railway stations are located in the city center and it is easier to get to them,” explains ATOR Vice President.
The exception, perhaps, is Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad region. Due to the logistical component (air travel) and the shortage of places in hotels, tours in this direction are booked with greater depth. According to ANEX, tours to the westernmost region of Russia are purchased 50-90 days before arrival. By the way, in the segment of weekend tours in the domestic market, the Kaliningrad direction is the leader in sales of the tour operator ANEX, overtaking, among others, St. Petersburg and Kazan.
WEEKEND TOURS HAVE RISEN IN PRICE, BUT REMAIN AVAILABLE
According to tour operators, due to rising prices for hotel accommodation, transport and sightseeing services, short weekend tours rose in price by an average of 20-22% in 2023.
“Day trips began to cost more than 3 thousand rubles instead of 2 thousand rubles, plus separately paid food. A three–day tour with walks and excursions now costs an average of about 15 thousand rubles per person,” says Alyona Gromova, Director of the domestic market of the Coral Travel tour operator.
In “Intourist”, as an example, the following price distribution is given: if the average cost of a trip to St. Petersburg in 2022 was 13,165 rubles per person, then in 2023 it is already 17,014 rubles per person.
In Moscow, the amount of the average weekend tour receipt increased from 11,999 rubles (2022) to 15,066 rubles in 2023; tourists spend 14,331 rubles on short trips to Kazan this year, which is 11% more than it was in 2022.
As market participants summarize, despite the price increase, short tours and weekend tours in Russia remain affordable. Experts predict a 10-15% increase in demand for such trips by the end of 2023.
TOP 7 DESTINATIONS FOR TOURS COSTING LESS THAN 10 THOUSAND RUBLES
The range of tour operators includes a large selection of weekend tours (2 days/1 night) in Russia worth up to 10 thousand rubles per person, excluding travel.
Tour operators have named the TOP 7 such budget destinations for weekend tours with an excursion program included in the price:
- St. Petersburg: from 6,650 rubles per person.
- Nizhny Novgorod: from 6500 rubles to 8,100 rubles per person
- Moscow: from 6900 rubles per person
- Karelia: from 7,100 rubles to 8,800 rubles per person
- Kazan: from 7700 rubles per person
- Golden ring: from 8,000 rubles per person.
- Kaliningrad: from 9800 rubles per person.