Russia hopes to entice Chinese tourists to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that it annexed in fighting this spring. A roadshow in Beijing called “Successful Russia” is promoting a plan to arrange visa-free travel, says Russian Tourism Board official Vladimir Fomin. Chinese tourists overtook Germans in terms of numbers visiting Russia in the first quarter of this year, having topped a million for the first time in 2013, government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports.
Russia sees the Asia Pacific region as a growth area not only for tourism, but also for attracting investment. Moscow is in talks with China about developing the Crimean port of Yevpatoria and even building a bridge to link Russia with the peninsula. But attracting visitors to Crimea’s beaches may prove difficult, given the international crisis over Russia’s seizure of the territory and the shortages of water and power caused by severing ties with the rest of Ukraine.
Yevgeny Tomikhin of the embassy in Beijing says Chinese tourists tend to head for the cultural highlights of Russia’s historic cities, as well as “red tourism” sites associated with the Bolshevik Revolution. Russian media has also reported empty hotels in Crimea amid vain campaigns by the Kremlin to persuade civil servants to spend their summer holidays there. A package deal to Turkey is cheaper and more comfortable than a week in Crimea, it seems.