Maya Lomidze: South Caucasus is in demand on Russian tourism market

Andrey Petrov
Maria Novoselova/Vestnik Kavkaza

The calendar summer begins tomorrow, and it's time to think about where to go on vacation. Vestnik Kavkaza talked with the Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia about the Caucasian destinations of outbound and domestic tourism.

- Maya Archilovna, now a seaside holiday with direct flights and without visas is available to Russians in the countries of the former USSR  in Azerbaijan and Georgia in particular. What is the demand for these destinations this year? What attracts Russians to Azerbaijan?

- The South Caucasus is traditionally in demand in the Russian tourism market. It is clear that a lot has happened over the past few years, and, of course, the dynamics of demand for some resorts in the South Caucasus cannot be compared with the pre-pandemic period, but one way or another, we can say that Georgia is the most popular tourist destination among the former republics of the Soviet Union. It has the sea, mountains, gastronomy, visa-free entry, and a very loyal and friendly atmosphere that our tourists love so much.

Azerbaijan has not yet entered the top ten in popularity, but it is one of the active business destinations and is partially used as a transit destination (like Georgia). But so far, we cannot say that Azerbaijani resorts are breaking records in the Russian tourism market. I think that this country's tourism glory is yet to come.

- Where will Russians go in the North Caucasus this summer?

- As for our Russian Caucasus, in addition to the Krasnodar Territory (which also considers itself the Caucasus), Dagestan attracts special attention from vacationers. Dagestan has already taken a strong lead in the domestic tourism market, and like Georgia, this happened thanks to a combination of different components: the sea, mountains, gastronomy and opportunities for any type of vacation — relaxing, active, very active, with children, with friends, and so on. I think that Dagestan will break another record this year, despite the fact that it has shown an increase in tourist flows of 30-40-80% every year, starting from 2020. There are not enough places in Dagestan hotels, but demand, despite this, is not decreasing.

- Abkhazia became the leader in bookings for June, surpassing Türkiye in popularity among Russians. In your opinion, how will the situation develop further?

- As for the sudden success of Abkhazia in June, this is what is called "it depends". In principle, this direction has always been quite popular among all foreign ones, but comparing it with Türkiye is not entirely correct, because the demand for Türkiye significantly exceeds the demand for Abkhazia in terms of volume. The market capacity is also different for obvious reasons.The options for the proposed vacation differ too.

- Which tourist locations would you call the most underrated in the whole Caucasus?

- Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia, where you can see a lot and have a great time. They have not yet emerged as capacious, vibrant tourist destinations. They are still underestimated by our tourists, although there are many tourists there too.

© Photo :Maria Novoselova/Vestnik Kavkaza