Tourism season in Crimea: the payback for #Crimeaisours

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2014/09/03 • Crimea

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).

Distorting reality

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

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  • Dirk Smith

    Putler’s economic ineptitude at work again. He couldn’t even manage the winter Olympics intelligently.

  • Edison

    How did the local wine industry do, after such a small tourist season? How about agriculture? Do we need to wait until after the harvest, or is there nothing to harvest because of the lack of water?

    • Arctic_Slicer

      While some crop failures due to lack of water were reported; other reports I’ve been reading say the agriculture sector didn’t suffer as much as it could have since the lack of tourists greatly reduced the demand for water on the peninsula leaving sufficient water to cultivate less water intensive crops. There was also an unusually high amount of rains this year that also helped in this regard. However over all the future of Crimea looks very grim. It’s obvious that Crimea will not be able to thrive apart from Ukraine and as long as Russia claims that “Crimea is ours”; the more the costs of occupation will mount for citizens of the Russian federation.

      • Edison

        They plan to build a water pipeline to bring water from the Krasnodar region to Kerch. There is no water above or below ground in Kerch, Feodosia, and almost none in Simferopol and Dzhankoy. The pipeline will cost at least $2B, but only supply half of their fresh water. After Crimean Disney land and casinos are build, they will max out the water supply during tourist season. Anyway, they will also have to use the canals for irrigation, but the huge pumps at Dzhankoy will have to be reversed to deliver about 2,000,000 cubic meters per day to the agricultural areas. Also, the existing canals are leaking badly and need about $20B to repair. It was the huge Kakhovka hydroelectric dam and canal system construction, authorized in 1950 by Stalin and completed in 1971, which provided the biggest incentive to transfer Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Putin reversed everything and must deal with this in the future.

        • Arctic_Slicer

          A water pipeline from Krasnodar to Kerch sounds silly considering that Russia already struggles with supplying sufficient quantities of water to the North Caucasus as is.

          I’m betting by 2020 the Ukrainian flag will once again be flying over Simferopol. I just don’t see Russia being able to meet the needs of Crimea long term; and without the needs of the peninsula being met what enthusiasm there was for the Russian occupation will fade.

  • Brent

    K-A-R-M-A She’s a bitch…..

  • Brattik

    I was in Crimea for holidays for 3 weeks and the only 2 soldiers i saw was on Simferopol airport when i left. Putin and his team just arrived. Of course this season less tourist (i gess 40% from normal) but that is logical. By car it was not possible and a lot of tourists came from East Ukraine. I was surprices about the integration progress, already 80% of Crimean citizen had already a Russian passport, clear for me that they made the choise for Moscow instead of Kyiv.

    • Dirk Smith

      I’m sure the choice was MADE by Moscow.

  • Arctic_Slicer

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if a good number of those “tourists” were foreign journalists covering the events in Crimea. Such “tourists” will have much less purpose to visit next year as Crimea wont be making the headlines anymore.

  • evanlarkspur

    What I don’t understand is why anyone thought this was going to be other than this. Are crimeans really so out of touch with the modern world as to believe their farcical little referendum was going to be internationally recognized as having any legal force? I’ve been there twice, and people didnt seem like complete idiots. So I don’t get it. I was baffled by this idiocy and I’m more baffled daily.