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Chinese tourists spend $1bn in Russia in 2014

Updated: Jul 22,2015 10:58 AM

The State Historical Museum in Moscow, Russia on July 15, 2015.[Photo/]

Chinese tourists spent a total of $1 billion in Russia in 2014, with each tourist spending about 15,000 yuan (about $2,400) on average per trip, according to Russian media.

410,000 Chinese citizens traveled to Russia in 2014, registering a year-on-year increase of 10 percent. Chinese tourists now account for 16 percent of foreign tourists to Russia.

The rise of the Chinese middle class has contributed to booming outbound tourism, a Russian expert noted, adding that Chinese tourists now prefer to buy luxury goods rather than traditional souvenirs in Russia. Expenditure on shopping accounts for an average of 57.8 percent of tourists’ spending during travels to Russia.

The depreciation of the rouble also contributed to the lure of Russia to Chinese tourists. The number of Chinese shoppers in Russia surged during the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2015, according to earlier reports. Chinese tourists are most interested in buying Russian gold, baby products, fur products, chocolates, honey, flour, and electronic gadgets.

Chinese tourists in Russia are mainly comprised of two groups, according to Russian media. One is those who have already been to Western countries, South Korea and Japan — traditional favorite destinations for Chinese tourists — and the second group is people who are emotionally attached to the Soviet Union and go to Russia for memories of the old days. Most Chinese tourists in Russia are between 50 and 60 years old.

Closer ties between China and Russia have also played a role in Chinese tourists’ growing enthusiasm for Russia. The Chinese and Russian national tourism bureaus signed a memorandum of understanding recently on “Red Trips” and plan to launch five tourism routes that include historical sites linked to revolutionary Communist Party leaders in Russia and China.

In contrast to the growing number of Chinese tourists, the number of tourists from Western countries in Russia decreased in 2014, according to an earlier report. Due to the Ukraine crisis and the ensuing standoff between Russia and Western countries, the number of visits by European and US tourists to Russia has slipped by at least 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.