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Spain, Italy fight to reverse drop in Russian tourists

A troupe of Spanish horses will visit Russia to promote tourism

A combination of frosty relations between Russia and Europe and the drastic decline in the value of the Russian ruble have seriously cut Russian tourism to Italy and Spain, where Russian visitors have been an important part of the local economy. Both areas are making plans to reverse the trend.


Andalucia, in southern Spain has planned a series of 20 events to promote the region to Russian audiences, including a first-ever visit to Russia by the Royal Andalucian school of equestrian arts, which will perform in Red Square in Moscow with a troupe of 13 horses. Other events include participation at trade fairs on tourism, gastronomy and healthy living. While Russian visits to Spain have dropped 38% this year, the region's tourism minister says there's already a slight uptick in his area.


There's no getting around the fact that the ruble buys half this year what it did last year; the trick is to convince Russians there's still a good time to be had, if less luxurious. Italy has felt the shift full force as well; Russian bookings are down as much as 31%, and package tours by the main Russian operators are down by 50%. 


The Italian embassy in Moscow has launched a Russian-language tourism website to help build up business, and Italy has eased online visa issuance for Russians. But starting September 14, all Russians will need fingerprints to get Schengen visas, and that may have an adverse effect on travel.


So, where are the Russians going? Cheaper destinations, that's where, and they include Turkey, Egypt, Montenegro, Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria. For all but Cypres and Greece, no visas are needed for Russian visitors.


Photo; Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Arts

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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