Foreign Tourists Flock to Irkutsk

PHOTO by kav38 / Depositphotos

Travel website KAYAK.ru has compiled a list of most popular cities among foreign tourists.

According to the analysis conducted using search data on Russian holiday destinations, Russia is becoming increasingly popular among overseas tourists. In 2016, the number of relevant queries had a 21% year-on-year increase. Moreover, the amount of bookings rose by 35% over the same period.

Irkutsk showed the biggest growth with 80%, largely owing to its proximity to Lake Baikal, the world’s largest lake and one of Russia’s natural wonders.

Foreign tourists have also shown interest in more traditional destinations, such as the Black Sea beaches in Sochi, a city that has enjoyed a 63% annual growth in interest from foreign travelers.

Sochi is followed by Omsk with 54% growth, Rostov-on-Don with 50% and Vladivostok with 45%. Russia’s classic tourist hotspots had a modest increase in popularity such as St. Petersburg, which attracted 34% more tourists than last year. Mountainous Ekaterinburg had fewer tourists with a 36% year-on-year decline.

Meanwhile, air fares for foreigners traveling to St. Petersburg increased on average by eight percent, and by seven percent for Moscow-bound flights.

But those who wish to travel off the beaten track are in luck, tickets to Vladivostok are on average 60% cheaper than last year. The far eastern Russian city climbed from ninth to eighth place in the national popularity chart.