The Russians have decided where to spend this year's summer holidays. Russia's Krasnodar Krai (Black Sea coast) and Greece are two most popular destinations for most Russian holiday-makers, spokespeople for the Association of Russian Tour Operators said.
In March, many Russians booked trips to Cyprus (16 percent of respondents), Krasnodar Krai (15 percent) and Greece (13 percent). The top five also includes Crimea (12 percent) and Bulgaria (10 percent).
In Crimea, a growing number of hotels switch to "all inclusive" system that enjoys immense popularity among Russian tourists. Many choose Crimea as it is possible to combine beach holidays and resort therapy there. There are also numerous excursions and cheap air travel tickets for Crimea.
Pravda.Ru asked an expert opinion from vice-president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Alexander Osaulenko.
"As for tourist destinations for this year, the situation has been changing quickly. Greece is on top of the list for Russian tourists. Bulgaria comes second, and for the first time in the entire history of the development of tourists, Russia comes third," the specialist told Pravda.Ru.
Just 18 months ago, Russia was somewhere in top 30 on the list of countries, where Russians prefer to travel for summer holidays. Black Sea coast resorts - Sochi, Anapa, Gelendzhik - have always enjoyed biggest demand.
Excursion tourism is also in demand. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg are very popular.
"New destinations for tourism have appeared as well. This is the Altai region, for example. The region offers a variety of activities: rafting, hiking, mountain climbing, mineral baths and health resort treatment. There is beautiful nature there and all of that comes at an affordable price.
Meanwhile, one of the most popular resorts among Russian tourists - Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh - is turning into a ghost town. Restaurants, shopping centers and other businesses are closing, while beaches are empty.
The Russian authorities were forced to ground all flights from Russia to Egypt after Airbus A321 crashed over Sinai as a result of a terrorist attack, when a bomb exploded on board the jetliner.
Russia will resume flights to Egypt only when the Egyptian airports take all necessary measures to ensure flight and airport safety.
Yet, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in an interview with The Telegraph that reports about a bomb on board the crashed jetliner were "groundless." According to him, any comments about the tragedy that killed 224 people would be "premature and not based on real facts."
Turkey and Egypt will not be open for Russian tourists in 2016, deputy head of the Federal Agency for Tourism, Roman Skory said. The decision was based on security reasons.
"Turkey definitely will not be opened this year. Recent events in Egypt have shown that, most likely, Egypt will not be opened for tourists either," the official told TASS.
He noted that Russia was not the only country that closed air communication with Egypt.
"For instance, the UK and several European countries are in no hurry to resume air communication with Egypt. Security is the main problem, question number one," the official said.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year