Despite the difficulties in obtaining Schengen visas, Russian tour operators began to offer tours to the EU countries. However, the volume of demand for European holidays is only 15-20% of the level that was in the pre-pandemic 2019.
Further restoration of the tourist flow will be constrained not only by the ongoing visa difficulties, but also by problems with the logistics of flights.
In April, 30-40% of requests for visas are for the Schengen countries, while a year ago it was 20%, said Yulia Otvagina, deputy head of the migration and visa department of Continent Express. Before the start of the geopolitical crisis, this figure reached 70-80%, she adds.
Marina Shirokova, Managing Partner of Visakhod, notes a seasonal revival of demand for visas at visa centers of European countries in April by about 15% in comparison with March 2023.
Vice-President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Dmitry Gorin says that no more than 15-20% of trips are now made to the Schengen countries from the level of pre-crisis 2019.
Mr. Gorin points out that this year many leading tour operators are arranging programs to Europe buying blocks of seats on flights of foreign air companies (from Turkey, Armenia and Kuwait).
OneTwoTrip estimates that overseas destinations accounted for 17,5% of all air ticket sales between April 1 and 20, that is 71,5% up year-on-year. The most popular in the company are the classic tourist countries - France, Italy and Spain. Ostrovok.ru adds that Schengen countries account for 12% of total hotel sales, and this figure has been stable since the beginning of the year.
It is now extremely difficult to apply for a visa at the visa centers of Spain and France, but in the case of Italy and Greece the slots remain available. Also, according to the expert, there are possibilities to obtain German visas, but nowadays the destination is not popular among tourists.
At a moment, it is visa difficulties that experts consider as one of the main restraining factors for traveling to Europe.