The effects of the Russian war in Ukraine began to be clearly reflected in many sectors of the global economy and among those sectors most affected was the tourism and air travel sector. International institutions were forced to adjust their expectations for the growth of the tourism sector by drastically reducing in light of the continuing war and the tightening of sanctions imposed on Russia.
This week, The Economist’s intelligence unit lowered its forecast for growth in Europe’s tourism sector due to “sanctions against Russia, high global inflation rates and the loss of the tourism sector by Russia and Ukraine.” And published a detailed report on the damage suffered by the sector, and his previous expectations estimated that he would return to pre-epidemic levels of Corona in the coming year 2023. The report concluded that that goal is now unattainable.
The European tourism sector is expected to suffer the most due to the lack of Russian and Ukrainian tourists, the recently imposed restrictions on airlines, the use of airspace in some regions, rising fuel and food prices, and the severe shock. to traveler confidence, in addition to declining household incomes in general.
It is estimated that Turkey and Poland will experience the largest decline in the number of tourists in both countries, but other European tourist destinations such as Cyprus and Latvia will also suffer greatly due to their heavy dependence on Russian visitors, who are also. best spenders.
Refugees instead of tourists
The summer season is the biggest tourist season in Europe and it was hoped that this summer 2022 would be the first clear recovery season for the tourism and travel sector after two years of stagnation due to the constraints that accompanied the Corona crisis. . But now, with the war in Ukraine, there are millions who fled Ukraine to European countries, but as refugees and not as visitors and tourists.
As for Russia, Russian tourists will not only be unwanted as visitors to many European countries, but will already find it difficult to travel for tourism due to the ban on Russian civil aviation and restrictions on the use of airspace.
Moreover, the war in Ukraine led to a rise in energy prices, and so airlines suffer from the high cost of jet fuel, and they are still burdened with debt as a result of their losses from the closure of their business in the Corona crisis.
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Also, high inflation rates and massive rise in commodity prices have eroded household incomes. Due to the high cost and lack of revenue abundance, planning and taking vacations has become an off-budget item for many people, which means a huge drop in demand in the area of tourism travel.
To clarify the impact of the shortage of tourists from Russia and Ukraine on the global tourism sector in general, World Tourism Organization figures show that before the travel and tourism sector was shut down due to the Corona epidemic, Russia was ranked 11th. world. as a source of the number of tourists, while Ukraine was 13th in the world.
In 2019, the number of tourists from both countries reached 75 million, accounting for approximately 5% of the total number of tourists worldwide. The importance of incoming tourism from Russia and Ukraine is not limited to figures, but the contributions of tourists from both countries to the income of the tourism sector are very important. Revenues for tourist destinations from tourists from both countries in 2019 amounted to $ 50 billion, which accounts for 8% of total global tourism revenues.
According to figures from the World Tourism Organization contained in the Economist report, Turkey and Poland are the two countries most affected by the lack of tourists from Russia and Ukraine. In 2018, Turkey attracted about 6 million tourists from Russia and 1.4 million tourists from Ukraine. These accounted for 16 per cent of the total number of tourists visiting Turkey that year.
Poland and Italy follow Turkey in importance as a tourist destination for Russians and Ukrainians. If Russian tourists can still visit Asian destinations like China and Thailand, and some neighboring countries like Kazakhstan, their arrival at European destinations is certainly not possible.
Other European destinations that will be severely affected by the lack of tourists from Russia and Ukraine are places like Cyprus, where Russian tourists in 2019 accounted for 20 percent of the total number of tourists who visited Cyprus that year. Also, Mount Al-Aswad, which attracted Russian tourists, accounted for 29 percent of the number of tourists in it. As well as Latvia, where the number of Russian tourists in 2019 represented 36% of its visitors.
Destinations that attract wealthy Ukrainian and Russian tourists will be most affected by the loss of large tourist expenditures that these people spent on luxury hotels, expensive hotels, and luxury and recreational goods. These destinations include Milan, Italy, British London and French Paris, as well as health spa resorts in countries such as the Czech Republic and Germany.
In addition to the lack of tourists from Russia and Ukraine, travel and tourism companies have begun to record a sharp decline in the number of holiday bookings for Eastern European countries from North America. These reserves witnessed an increase earlier this year with the easing of travel restrictions imposed due to the Corona epidemic. Indeed, some airlines have begun canceling some of their traditional scheduled flights to countries such as Finland, Sweden, and much of Eastern Europe because of their proximity to war zones.
Moreover, Russia and Ukraine will lose most of the tourism that came to them each year, which accounts for a reasonable percentage of the global travel and tourism sector. As a result of sanctions and the ban on escort flights, Russia will lose a large amount of incoming tourism, as it once hosted about 25 million tourists a year. Arrivals from Ukraine accounted for the largest percentage of tourists visiting Russia.
Ukraine, on the other hand, loses almost all of its tourism revenue, receiving 14 million tourists a year, most of them from Russia. All holiday travel between the two countries is almost banned now and is not expected to reopen soon. Tourists from other sources will also be reluctant to travel to any country for a while, even when the war has stopped.