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12:02 a.m.: The number of foreign tourists visiting Russia collapsed last year because of the impact of Western sanctions imposed on the country following its military operation in Ukraine and strict COVID-19 restrictions in China, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday, citing industry professionals.
Only 200,100 foreigners visited Russia in 2022, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) said, citing figures from border services, a drop of 96.1% from pre-pandemic years.
“The reasons are clear: the closed skies between Russia and the vast majority of European countries, as well as the impossibility to use foreign-issued Visa and Mastercard cards in Russia,” ATOR said.
Most of Europe closed its airspace to Russian planes a few days after the Kremlin launched the Ukraine offensive in February 2022.
Also, draconian COVID-related restrictions in China that Beijing only recently abandoned kept Chinese tourists from taking advantage of the situation.
Before the pandemic Chinese tourists were the top visitors to Russia, accounting for around 30% of the 5.1 million total. In 2022 only 842 Chinese tourists visited Russia.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse.