During the war, it may seem that everyone forgot about travel. But this is not entirely true: there are many families with children in the country who need rest, a change of scenery and health improvement. People who maintain sources of income are trying to organize a vacation along their favorite route. However, of course, the war made its own adjustments.
How has the tourism market changed?
Tourist travel came to a complete halt in the first weeks of the war. The situation was unstable, many people went abroad to escape. However, it gradually became clear that the war would last for a long time, so you need to adapt to new realities.
As summer, traditionally the peak travel season, demand began to pick up again. However, if we compare current bookings even with the volume of the previous year (which was also difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic), then the drop will be huge.
So, according to the internal statistics of one of the largest national tour operators, in June 2022, tours from Ukraine were booked by about 1,440 tourists, and in the same month of 2021, over 95,000 travelers.
Closer to summer, the demand for foreign travel from Ukraine began to recover again
If we talk about global data, the World Tourism Organization predicts losses of more than $14 billion in 2022 – this is how much Russian and Ukrainian tourists brought to the world economy, who will no longer travel.
These figures show the general state of affairs in the industry. In the future, of course, recovery awaits us, but with regard to outbound tourism from Ukraine, much will depend on the speed of economic recovery after the war.
In addition, there are additional factors of the negative impact of the war. The European Tourism Commission, which conducted a survey of traveler sentiment, concluded that 19% of Chinese and 41% of Japanese travelers surveyed are not ready to travel to EU countries due to Russian aggression.
Who and how book tours?
Men of military age, with a few exceptions, cannot yet leave Ukraine, so the main audience of the tours are women and children. This is the part of citizens who did not go abroad for permanent residence, because they kept their jobs and, accordingly, have a need to go on vacation.
At the same time, the booking time remains the same for recent years – most tours are booked 2-3 weeks before the trip. Due to objective fears, almost no one plans a vacation in advance, although all conditions regarding low prices for early bookings remain.
Where do Ukrainians go most often?
Given the ban on foreign travel for most Ukrainian men, if anyone has the opportunity to go on vacation with the whole family, they choose to rest in Ukraine.
Given the crisis in the economy in general and in the tourism industry in particular, prices for holidays within the country have not risen significantly compared to last year, and there are enough offers.
Men of military age cannot yet leave Ukraine, so the main audience of the tours are women and children
However, domestic holidays now have their drawbacks, the main of which is in terms of security. Indeed, unfortunately, now one cannot feel completely safe in any of the places in Ukraine, but one wants to take a break from the constant threats of missile strikes and air raids. First of all, this concerns families with children, who, if possible, are considering vacation options abroad.
Now the top three among foreign destinations are as follows:
- Bus routes to Turkey
- Air tours from Chisinau to Turkey and Egypt
- Bus tours to Montenegro
How to go on vacation?
The shutdown of air travel has become one of the critical factors for the industry. At the same time, it is important to remember that the problems began even before the full-scale invasion – when first Western airlines stopped flights, and then international aviation insurers did not want to insure aircraft in Ukrainian airspace.
Tour operators are now seeking to make up for the closed skies with bus rides from regions further away from the fighting. Most often, they offer two options for resolving the issue: bus tours from Ukrainian cities and air tours from the nearest airports of neighboring countries. One of these locations is neighboring Chisinau. From there, for example, flights are operated to Turkey, Montenegro, Egypt, Greece (Crete). At the same time, tour operators now also organize transfers to the capital of Moldova from Kyiv, Zhitomir, Vinnitsa, Odessa, Dnipro, Kropyvnytskyi and some other cities.
Bus tours are usually available to Bulgaria, Turkey and Montenegro. Departures are organized from many large cities: Kyiv, Bila Tserkva, Uman, Odessa, Izmail, Lvov, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Kolomyia, Zhitomir, Vinnitsa, Khmelnitsky, Kamenets-Podolsky. A rarer option is a bus tour to Greece. These are now available from the capital of Ukraine.
Now tour operators are trying to compensate for the closed sky with bus trips.
An interesting fact is that according to the State Tourism Development Agency (DART), during the first half of 2022, a significant increase in the income of travel agencies was recorded. DART notes that travel agencies paid 85% more funds to the state budget than in the same period in 2021. However, the agency itself indicates that this is due to the results of the first pre-war months of the year, when the industry had just begun its post-COVID recovery.
How has the cost of tours changed?
In 2021, an average bus tour cost UAH 16,520 (for two adults for 7 nights including breakfast) – this year, the cost of a similar trip starts from UAH 16,000. However, the average check has increased significantly – Ukrainians more often choose longer tours of 14 days, and such a trip costs from 37,450 UAH. It should be added that last year bus tours were available only to Bulgaria, but this year you can also go to more expensive Turkey and Montenegro.
In addition, other factors are gradually affecting the industry. Since the main tourist locations are either directly located in the euro area, or partners make payments in dollars, the cost directly depends on exchange rate fluctuations. Another factor for bus tours is rising fuel prices. Accordingly, due to hostilities and the blow inflicted on the economy of Ukraine, the price of tours may increase.
What are the future prospects for the industry?
During the war, it is quite difficult to make long-term forecasts – many factors remain unknown. On the one hand, we have severe destruction of infrastructure, housing stock, enterprises, which affects the standard of living of citizens. On the other hand, media interest in Ukraine, which can be converted into a tourist brand after the war.
Thus, after our victory, inbound tourism will soon resume. At least there are prerequisites for this, although there is a need for high-quality marketing campaigns in different countries to encourage foreigners to visit our country. With regard to outbound tourism, the main factor here is the speed of economic recovery and the opening of airports. In any case, tourism will develop, because the desire of people to travel remains even in the most difficult circumstances.
Ekaterina Artyukh, Owner representative Join UP!