The hosting of major sporting events will spur a 20% rise in tourists to Russia over the next four years.
Numbers are set to peak at more than 28.3 million a year from this year’s projected figure of 23.7 million.
The sporting schedule starts next year with Moscow hosting the World Athletic Championships and the Rugby Sevens World Cup. Also in 2013 is the Universiade (University games) in Kazan, while 2014 sees Sochi host the Winter Olympics.
The country then hosts the football World Cup in 2018.
The findings come from Euromonitor International research unveiled at the WTM Vision Conference in Moscow.
But the Travel Industry Global Overview report warns that visa barriers are currently a major restriction for inbound tourism to Russia.
Visitors from most countries require a visa to enter which must be obtained in advance. There are ongoing talks with the EU regarding changes to the visa process.
Another restriction highlighted is high hotel prices in the main tourist destinations.
The report reveals that the projected increase in arrivals will be mainly fuelled by European source countries, with Finnish visitors increasing by 16% to nearly 1.3 million in 2016.
Polish arrivals will grow by 25% to 857,000 in 2016; visitors from the UK are due to increase by 17% to 250,000, with Turkish visitors rising by 19% to 243,000.
Visitors from the US will also increase by 15% to 301,000 in 2016.
Inbound arrivals are also expected to increase from China due to the simplification in visa regulations between Russia and China.
Russia’s largest inbound markets are the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, mainly due to the close connections and similar linguistic and historical links, enabling tourists to meet easily with friends and family.
Meanwhile, Russian outbound tourism spend is expected to rise an average 8% a year until 2016, with a 50% increase in online spend predicted over the next four years.
Growing internet penetration, combined with the recession has encouraged online searches as travellers seek bargains, mainly seen within transportation.
Reed Travel Exhibitions’ World Travel Market director Simon Press said: “The findings are very positive for the Russian market. As long as the visa restrictions are minimised, Russia will see its tourism industry grow substantially over the next few years.
“Russia will be showcased to the world with the hosting of all the major sporting events taking place, this being the perfect opportunity to highlight Russia as a tourism destination.”
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