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Unintended Consequences: Broke Russians Stay Off European Winter Resorts

empty ski lift

The European sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s Russia over the Ukraine, combined with the slump of the ruble following the slump of oil prices, are hitting the ski industry in the Alps, ASP reports. Because the Russians are broke, the Russians are broke.

Hotel owners, taxi drivers and ski slope operators in the French Alps must go through this winter without their big-spender Russian tourists, the super-rich and the middle class.

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Putin warned that U.S and Europe that those sanctions were going to cut both ways. In addition to tourism, eastern European fruit growers, banned from their Russian customers by Putin’s decree, have been flooding western European markets with ever cheaper produce.

Falling Russian tourism has been hurting France, Austria, Germany, Cyprus and England.

Carole Genevray, a marketing director for Comete Conseil, advising French Alpine towns, told AP: “We’ve received fewer reservations from Russian clients this year. We can draw parallels with what happened on the coast this summer, where they too were less present. It’s more the geopolitical context than the financial one that has in fact limited Russian visits … It is Ukraine, plain and simple.”

According to the AP, Russian tourists are not a very significant segment of overall European tourism, but wherever they go, they splurge, big time, and those resorts want them back desperately. Also, because the Russian Greek-Orthodox holiday schedule differs from the Catholic/Protestant schedule, Russian tourists are out in packs in January, just as the rest of the packs have gone back home, to work.

In Cyprus, Haris Loizides, who runs the local hotel association, told AP that “it seems we won’t be able to avoid a 20-25 percent drop in arrivals.”

And in London, a Rolex boutique supervisor at Harrods told AP the store is experiencing a “significant drop in Russian clients” compared to last year, saying, “I think is connected with the currency exchange rate.”

Russians like Rolex. It’s a known fact…

Only Egypt seems to have been spared so far, as 3 million Russian tourists have visited this year, according to AP — more than ever before. Say what you will about Russian tourists, they don’t mind a few street shootings, reminds them of home.



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