Russian invasion prompts collapse in tourism sector

The latest data from ForwardKeys reveals that the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted an instant spike in flight cancellations to and from Russia.

On February 25th, the day after the start of the invasion, every booking that was made for travel to Russia was outweighed by six cancellations of pre-existing bookings.

The source markets exhibiting the highest cancellation rates, in order of volume, were Germany 773 per cent, France 472 per cent, Italy 152 per cent, the UK 254 per cent, India 285 per cent and Turkey 116 per cent.

The invasion also triggered a collapse in the market for Russian outbound travel.

Destinations which suffered the highest immediate cancellation rates, in the period February 24-26, were Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, the UK, Armenia and Maldives.

Prior to the outbreak of war, Russian outbound flight bookings for March, April and May, had recovered to 32 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with some holiday hotspots doing exceptionally well.

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Mexico had been leading the way with flight bookings 427 per cent ahead of 2019 levels.

It was followed by Seychelles, Egypt ahead and the Maldives.

For some of the countries mentioned above, such as the Seychelles, Maldives and Cyprus, Russian arrivals represent for a high percentage of all international arrivals; so, a collapse in Russian travel will have damaging consequences on their tourism-dependent economies.

Coinciding with the collapse in international air travel, a strong recovery in domestic air travel, immediately stalled.

Up to February 23rd, Russian domestic flight bookings for March, April and May were running 25 per cent ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

However, new bookings fell 77 per cent, analysed on a week-on-week basis.

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Olivier Ponti, vice president, insights, ForwardKeys, said: “The outbreak of war always has a hugely damaging impact on the travel industry; and that is what we are seeing here, with mass cancellations in flight bookings to and from Russia.

“The Russian tourism economy was beginning to revive from the pandemic; and it will now experience another substantial blow.

“There will also be serious impacts on destinations that depend heavily on Russian visitors.

“The current data does not yet contain the impact of sanctions, which is bound to make the picture worse.

“Of course, should there be a cease fire and successful peace talks, the outlook for travel should improve.

“However, while the economic damage already looks set to be dreadful; it is nothing compared to the human suffering experienced by the people in the field.”

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