“The Maldives has fallen in price”: Russians have bought up New Year’s tours to tropical islands

“The Maldives has fallen in price”: Russians have bought up New Year’s tours to tropical islands

Despite the fall of the ruble, sanctions and statistical calculations that “the average Russian cannot afford a New Year’s trip,” it is Russians who are leading among tourists who will celebrate the New Year 2024 in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the Seychelles.

The Russians have become rich or the islands have become cheaper – we find out from those who are in the know.

There are so many Russians on the island of Ceylon (the British name for the current republic of Sri Lanka) that locals began to call certain areas “Russian villages.”

“And it seemed to me that there weren’t that many relocants from the Russian Federation to Sri; remote workers were afraid of power outages (two years ago the island state found itself in an economic crisis, which primarily affected the supply of electricity to the island),” I appeal to Amy, a Russian-speaking employee travel agency cooperating with Russia.

“Yes, there are few relocants from Russia,” she agrees. – But the statistics are based on your “packages”. We immediately sent two guides to teach Russian. They should be in time for the New Year.

However, the statistics that assure that on New Year’s Eve there will be the most Russians on the island are also island-specific. Therefore, I will clarify how the picture is seen from our side.

“That’s right, everything is already sold out for the New Year Sri,” confirms a domestic tour operator working with Southeast Asia.

– But a week ago, your manager told me that Russians have no money and will stay home for the New Year!

“That’s true,” the manager for southern India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives agrees again. – With the exception of the luxury segment, there are no changes there. Their audience, where they are used to celebrating the New Year, celebrates it there, and these are mainly the Maldives and Seychelles. Now Sri’s wise tourism policy has been added to the luxury, which also covers the budget tourist, so they have all become leaders in bookings from Russia. Do you know that Sri is only 600 km from the vaunted Maldives, people sail back and forth on motorboats. The ocean, sun and sand are the same, the people are equally friendly, only in the Maldives there are Muslims, and in Sri there are Buddhists. And the prices used to differ by a factor of 10. But this time the Maldives got scared and also fell in price. Even “one-star” hotels appeared there, although previously they refused even “four” stars, only luxury ones.

– What kind of “wise tourism policy” does Sri have?

– They announced the abolition of fees for a visa, which costs $60. Announced, but not yet cancelled. So far, everyone pays – either $60 upon arrival, receiving a stamp at the airport, or $50, but submitting documents in advance via the Internet. But the very talk about the abolition of the fee increased our tourist’s interest in Sri Lanka.

A study of “package” offers for Sri Lanka confirms: this is indeed one of the most affordable destinations for Russians this winter. The tourism product is created on the basis of charter flights and reserved blocks of seats on regular direct flights from the Russian Federation to Sri Lanka, and they fly not only from Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also from Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Kazan. Flight time from Moscow to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is 8 hours 10 minutes, which is 2 hours less than to the Maldives and 4 hours than to Seychelles or Phuket. A week-long “package” for the New Year in Sri Lanka in a “three ruble” with breakfast only will cost 200-220 thousand rubles for two, a similar one in a “four” – from 240 thousand rubles, in a “five” – from 260 thousand. rub.

“Lankan “five-star” hotels are not exactly what a Russian tourist might imagine when arriving in Sri for the first time,” clarifies Yulia, manager for Sri Lanka. – Don’t forget that Sri was originally a resort for surfers; they need the sea, not all-inclusive. Until now, there were no “fives” at all in Sri, the fact is that Western tourists on tropical islands prefer hotels, at least stylized as surfer ones. That is, with all the comfort, but at the same time built into the exotic surroundings, and not palaces of abundance fenced off from the world, as in Turkey or Egypt. “Five-star” buildings were built in “tea” areas – high mountain areas of the country, where it is cool, there is no ocean and business forums are held, for which conference rooms are needed. But with the influx of Russians, the Sri Lankans quickly built “all-inclusive” hotels on the coasts. Now there are hotels of this system from “five” to “two”.

– Two stars, all inclusive?!

– Yes, that’s absolutely right. A week for two on New Year’s dates with a flight from Moscow – 265 thousand rubles. Excursions are paid separately. An absolute must-have in Sri are the highland cities of Ella and Nuwara Eliya with a ride on the railway laid by the British colonialists, a safari in the national park and the Dutch fortified city of Galle. There is still a lot of interesting things to do on the island. An individual excursion tour costs $50–80 for two per day, depending on the route.

According to the manager, tourists will see a Russian-speaking guide and his transport only on the appointed day of the excursion, but it is paid for immediately, along with the tour, due to difficulties with translation.

“But the Sri Lankans promise to start servicing Russian cards,” Yulia consoles. – For now, really. They just promise. But in Asia they know that sweet promises are a magical “balm for the ears.”

True, according to domestic statistics, only 10% of Russians who meet NG on the islands set their feet on Sri; the rest rushed off to the Seychelles and Maldives. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of the Seychelles Republic, during this pre-New Year period there were three times more Russians at their resorts than a year ago. At the same time, in the island statistics, our compatriots took “bronze” in terms of “frequency of arrivals” (after the Germans and French) and 1st place “in terms of the pace of presence in the Seychelles,” which means that we are rapidly increasing in number.

It’s about the same with the Maldives: of the 1.5 million foreign tourists who visited the most expensive Maldivian resorts in 2023, 180 thousand are Russians with “an average vacation duration of 1 week.” And at the same time, the Maldivian Ministry of Tourism notified that for the New Year the island tourism industry offered Russians a discount: 40% for “fives”, 50% for individual villas and from 10 to 30% for accommodation in bungalows. There are no discounts only on standard rooms, rooms for four and two-room villas for one family; they have already been snapped up by Russians. After an unprecedented New Year’s price drop, a week in the Maldives, including New Year’s Eve, will cost a Russian couple more than 300 thousand when staying in a “one-star bungalow” and in the amount of 700 thousand in a 4-5 star hotel.

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