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TTC Special. Caribbean: The Russians keep coming

TTC Special: Caribbean: The Russians keep coming

Russians have in common the idea of finding a warm getaway far from the cold, snowy scenery, and of having a wonderfully relaxing time. Photo: Tono Balaguer/123rf

By F. Martin

TTC Service.- Serguei and Ekaterina, a couple from Moscow, plan to dedicate their next vacation to stroll through the Caribbean.

“This year we decided to come to Miami, Florida, and found that some Caribbean people who come here often have invited us to visit their islands, Serguei, 36 years old and employed at a Moscow firm, told to TTC.

According to the couple, many of their friends in Moscow prefer the tropics, and especially the Caribbean islands, to spend the summer vacation. “We have been told that the beaches are beautiful, the sea warm, the food very spicy and the music sounds everywhere,” said Ekaterina.

Be that as it may, the number of Russians visiting Miami and the Caribbean increases every year.

“Over the last two to three years, Russian interest in the Caribbean has been growing; so that today Moscow’s diplomatic profile and its economic presence in a number of Caribbean nations is now stronger than at any time since the end of the Cold War”, wrote recently the British expert David Jessop in The Gleaner, of Jamaica.

“Until two years ago, Cuba was the only Caribbean destination for Russian visitors – 76,500 arrivals in 2012- but now, so rapidly have Russian numbers to the Dominican Republic increased, that Russia has overtaken Germany as a source market and may soon do the same in relation to France, its third largest market after the United States and Canada”, he added.

According to Dominican Republic tourism officials, some 158,415 Russian visitors visited the country in 2012, a figure 35 per cent higher than in the previous year, and one that they hope will grow by around 51 per cent this year.

Russians are not limited about frontiers when it comes to Caribbean destinations. Of course, they continue to travel to Cuba, an island with which they had very special and close relations during the so-called cold war.

The Russian Tour Operators Association (ATOR) has reported recently an increase in Russian travels to Cuba during the first half of this year. The Cuban Ministry of Tourism representative in Moscow disclosed that from January to June 2017, the island received more than 52,000 Russian tourists, 2.2 times more than in the same period last year, a figure that coincides with the ATOR report.

In total, in the first six months, Cuba welcomed three million foreign tourists improving last year’s results in that same period by 24 percent. Sources pointed out that most tourists in the island come from Canada, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. These data are also published by the Sputnik News, in which it emphasizes that the increase in tourist flow from Russia is attributed to the stabilization of the ruble and the growth of air traffic, especially charter flights.

According to Sputnik News, the number of arrivals from Russia to Cuba in 2017 will significantly exceed the 2016 number (65,300 tourists). Also, if the economic situation continues to be favorable, the number of Russian tourists in 2017 could regain levels from before the global financial crisis in 2008, and Russian arrivals to the Caribbean island would exceed 70,000.

The Russians also appreciate Cancun, in Mexico. The gorgeous Mexican place is visited annually by an array of tourists arriving from all around the world. All of them have in common the idea of finding a warm getaway far from the cold, snowy scenery, and of having a wonderfully relaxing time, with just the few clothes you have on and a glass of tequila in your hand. The most common visitors are travelers from the United States of America, thanks to its proximity.

In different seasons receive tourists from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Canada, France, and South America, among others. However in the last few year Russian high and middle-classes are avid to travel not only to Cancun, but to many different places all around Mexico in seven-day tourist circuits.

Jessop estimates that a significant change in the Russian presence in the region has been the dramatic improvement in Russia’s relationship with Cuba.

“Earlier this year, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed 10 wide-ranging agreements significantly strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries, effectively reversing its withdrawal following the fall of the Soviet Union”.

He added that In the Eastern Caribbean, there has been a rapid growth in interest in investment in tourism to take advantage of citizenship schemes being introduced there.

In St Kitts for instance, where government has removed visa requirements for Russians.