The Russian president Vladimir Putin paid Crimea this week a three day visit. One of his reasons was to talk about the tourism on the peninsula. Since its annexation in 2014 by Russia, the once flourishing tourism sector in Crimea is now in dire straits.
Before the annexation around 6 million tourists visited Crimea every year. The majority of them were Ukrainians (60%), followed by Russians (30%), the European Policy Centre (EPC) says. The remaining 10% were other international tourists. But the situation has dramatically changed. The number of tourist visiting Crimea has plunged more than half in 2014, the Crimean authorities stated. This happened despite the fact that Russia started a programme to promote tourism on the peninsula, according to the EPC.
There are various reasons for the deterioration in the tourism sector. An important one is that Ukrainians are no longer keen on taken a vacation in Crimea after it was taken away from them. And there are the consequences of the economic sanctions, the drop in the oil price and the devaluation of the Russian currency, the Ruble, explains EPC. This holds the Russians back with spending money. Besides that, other destinations, as Turkey and Egypt, are more attractive for the Russians and cheaper to go to than the peninsula. Another problem of the region is its present international status. This lack of clarity and a potential security situation in the region may also postpone the rebirth of tourism.
The difficult accessibility of Crimea does not help the tourism sector either. Flying to the peninsula from ‘mainland’ Russia is only possible from a couple of places. The trains to the mainland are no longer going. There is now a plan to connect Crimea and Russia by a bridge, but the construction will not be completed before 2019.
Many Russians were happy to see the peninsula as a part of their country again. In 1954, Crimea was given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev, but many Russians did not applaud this. However, the annexation has not led to a massive inflow of Russian tourists. Once Crimea was a much beloved holiday spot for Russians with millions visiting the peninsula. But it does not seem very likely that under the current circumstances these scenes will repeat themselves anytime soon.