Simferopol – In Spring, the ‘government’ of Crimea expected 8 million guests from the current tourism year. The summer has come to an end, but preliminary results are very far from the desired numbers. As of the moment (even according to unexplainably high official data), Crimea was visited by 2,3 million tourists only. The government’s predictions are much more modest now than back in March: only 3 million people by the end of the year. Which is twice as low as the numbers of last year. However, according to independent experts, real losses will be even more significant than the decorated official statistics.
According to the officials from the Crimean ‘Ministry for Resorts and Tourism,’ as of the end of summer, then 2,3 million tourists that visited Crimea, 2 million (87%) came from the Russian Federation. Let us compare the number to that of the previous years.
Numbers and revenues
In the recent years, Crimea has been visited by 6 million tourists a year (official data, yet again), of which 65-70% were guests from continental Ukraine. The amount of Russians was only 20%.
As such, this year we predictably see how the tourist flow has waned, first and foremost because few Ukrainians go to the peninsula. According to official data, there were only 300 thousand of them. It is quite difficult to say who came to Crimea for leisure. Many had business here, which they were reluctant to share with the border workers.
According to Crimea’s former resort Minister Alexandr Liyev, 300 thousand tourists from continental Ukraine that the Crimean officials are talking about are mostly residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, so refugees who are accommodated on the peninsula gratis.
This opinion is also supported by hotel owner. As such, a director of one of the hotels on the Southern Coast of Crimea told Crimea. Reality that a prevalent majority of the ‘tourists’ were Donetsk and Luhansk citizens. The number of Russians has not grown. In the end, hotels lost money, and if this continues, it is possible they may lose part of their staff.
Mini hotels and the private sector are also not living in luxury. Chairman of the Board of the Association of Small Crimean Hotels Valentina Marnopolskaya said that the amount of guests in mini-hotels this season turned out to be 30-40% less than the year before. “The tourist changed, this is the first time we had so many tourists from Russia, and Ukrainians decided against coming here for vacation,” says Marnopolskaya (cited by RBC).
The general sum of money the tourists are spending in Crimea is also becoming smaller. According to preliminary calculations of the ‘Resort and Tourism Ministry,’ starting the beginning of the year the guests of the peninsula spent about 60 billion rubles. Judging from the number of tourists, 2,3 million people, the average holidaymaker spent 26 thousand rubles on their trip to Crimea.
Let us compare to last year yet again. Back then the holidaymakers spent 40 billion UAH on the peninsula – about 160 rubles or, judging from the number of tourists, 6 million, about 27 thousand per capita, so about as much as this year. According to experts, it looks like Crimea will lose at least 2,2 billion dollars of revenue (under the condition that the 3 million tourists do come).
Meanwhile most independent experts and hotel owners agree that the numbers of the Crimean ‘Resort and Tourism Ministry’ are too high. As such, the sum of both human and financial losses of the season is much higher.
“In reality, the tourist flow to Crimea may reach 1,2 million by the end of the year. This is not too little, really. But this is half as much as it was in 1993, which was the worst year for tourism throughout Ukraine’s entire independence,” said former minister Liyev to BBC Ukraine.
Similar numbers were provided by the pro-Russian head of the organization Resort Crimea Alexandr Burdonov: “The number is clearly too high. According to our information, about 0,7-0,8 million tourists came to Crimea in reality.”
According to Crimean economics expert Andrey Klimenko, numbers higher than 2 million tourists declared by the ‘Ministry’ are very distant from reality. “Do not post or copy the idiocy the Resort Ministry of Crimea is saying about the fact that the number of tourists decreased by half. It is not true,” Klimenko told the journalists on his Facebook page. “The resorts in Crimea accepted about 1,1-1,2 million tourists in a good year (only 20% of the general amount). So they will have 500-600 thousand guests in 2014 at most, and even less in reality. The private sector (mini-hotels, apartments), according to the Ministry of Resorts, had 20% of rooms filled even at the peak of the season on the Southern Coast of Crimea. The private sector accommodated 80% of the tourists, so 4,5-4,8 people. The numbers will have gone down at least five times. As such, Crimea will have 1,5-1,6 million tourists within 12 months instead of the 6 million last year. The rest is nonsense.”
Even better yet?
The negative tendency may increase next year, think the experts. The thing is that a significant amount of Russians have gone to the peninsula with fanfares and “Crimea is Ours” mottos, which never even thought of coming here before, but as Crimea became part of their country, they decided to give it a try. And instead of the comfortable holidays, they mostly received hours of waiting in line in their cars upon entry, lack of good beaches and their surroundings, high prices, audacious ‘self-defense’ and many other small and big troubles. The internet is full of stories written by dissatisfied tourists.
Therefore next year Crimea will find it hard to count on a significant number of tourists from Russia which is the only thing that forms its tourism market this year. The ‘Crimea is Ours’ motto is unlikely to work a second time, and Russian citizens will choose a more rational option of cheaper and more comfortable holidays in Turkey, Egypt, Croatia or even Thailand, which are much more interesting in terms of tourism and much cheaper as well.
By: Roman Nikolayev
Source: Crimea. Reality
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina