Since the early 90s, Russian travel has come a very long way from the complicated processes and limited options that once existed.  Russians are presented with more opportunities for travel and the process of booking and taking trips continues to become easier.  The popular times for Russian vacations will likely always coincide with the New Year,  May, and summer holidays and a number of destinations will always attract tourists but several factors are changing the Russian travel industry.   Over the past year Russians are expanding their travel interests, booking travel on their own, and utilizing the internet more to do so.  This blog looks as some of the recent major shifts with Russian travel logistics and destinations.

Compared to many Western countries, the online travel industry in Russia is still developing. Most users are accustomed to booking their travel through a tourist agency that handles everything from their plane tickets to their city tours.  Visa restrictions also encourage Russian users to book through travel agencies and opt for packaged tours.  However, as Internet use continues to grow and Russians become more familiar and comfortable with booking online travel themselves, Russia will eventually catch up to the independent travelers of the world.  Just in the past year, queries for travel agencies have dropped 12% according to Yandex data.

In addition to the drop in searches for travel agencies, Yandex saw a number of other noteworthy shifts in Russians’ travel related queries. Other drops in searches for vouchers and last minute trips indicate a shift from the traditional use of travel agencies.  Instead, users have been searching for their own transportation tickets and hotel bookings, which have risen by 18% and 20% respectively. The biggest increase in travel queries was the 38% jump in queries for private sector, indicating a rise in home sharing searches.

Yandex travel queries

The other major change in Russian travel searches reflects the past economic year in Russia. Russians continued to travel and take vacations but vacations that are within reason. Searches for more affordable accommodations became more popular, while searches for the best accommodations dropped. Especially for many of the wealthiest Russians traveling abroad, travel hasn’t ceased, it’s just become less luxurious.

When it comes to the top queries for travel, Russians tend to use an expected set of keywords for researching and booking their travel online.  For example, most users are checking the weather, forms of transportation to reach their destination, and the prices for their trip.  However, keeping in mind the infancy of this category as an online industry and Russians travel habits, there is a bit of variation with their searches.  For instance, the keyword for website is a bit of an under developed query because most practiced Internet users already know the name of travel sites they want to use or wouldn’t include the term in their query when searching for something like a hotel or airline.

50 top Russian travel queries

In addition to the search terms changing, Russians’ travel destinations of choice also evolved over the course of the year.  By using this interactive Yandex map below, it’s visible that a few countries saw more Russians visiting, while several others lost some of their Russian tourists. Certainly the economy encouraged more domestic travel for Russians.  More tourists visited many closer countries like Poland, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, and Moldova in the past year.  However, other travel shifts like the interest in Peru show that Russians are still traveling far distances and still have the means to visit destinations worldwide.

The countries that saw the most significant drop in Russian tourists include Finland, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Greece, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.  Overall fewer countries lost Russian vacationers compared to those that didn’t see a change or gained more inbound tourism.

North America and South America remain popular travel destinations for Russians. As seen above, most of the top travel spots in the region increased over the past year.  The interactive map below offers more specific details on some of the top locations Russians like to visit. The US still proves to be the most popular country to visit in the area, as a number of major cities like Miami draw high volumes of Russians.  However, more and more Russians are traveling to some of the top beach destinations like Punta Cana and Rio de Janeiro.

Looking ahead, Russians will likely continue to travel more to Western locations as some of the top international tourist destinations in Egypt and Turkey will decrease due to geo-political reasons.  Russians will also book their travel plans more online and follow world trends like home sharing accommodations.  It will become increasingly important to create Russian landing pages or entire Russian optimized sites to help potential tourists book their travel online and learn more about your business.