Russia Attracts 1.5 Million Chinese Tourists in 2017

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chinese-red-squareRussia has been experiencing a boom in the visiting numbers of Chinese tourists, according to Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui, who said that 1.5 million Chinese nationals visited Russia in 2017.

“The number of Chinese tourists in Russia reached 1.5 million in 2017. This is the largest number among all countries for Russia. China, for its part, ranked second among the countries visited by Russian tourists,” the Chinese envoy said. Li was speaking at a board meeting of the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East in Vladivostok.

Western Destination Numbers of Chinese Tourists (Millions, 2017)
United States 3
France 2
Germany 1.9
Russia 1.5
United Kingdom 0.3

Li noted that 32 tourist routes were established between the Heilongjiang province and Russia’s Far East. Vladivostok is placed second among Russian cities for the number of Chinese tourists, with Moscow topping the list. This ranking was prompted by the introduction of the electronic visa that facilitated trips to the Primorsky Region for Chinese citizens.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates comments: “The success of the visa scheme in Vladivostok is related to the casinos there, after which the traditional sites such as Moscow start to come in. China and Russia enjoyed warm relations in the 1960’s and a lot of Chinese were educated in Russia. Most Chinese tourists come to Russia on organised tour groups, with 70 percent of them made up of retired Chinese going back to look at their previous haunts in Russia. A lot of the older Chinese generation speak some Russian and enjoy the cultural ties. The fact that Russia has deliberately reached out and endorsed payment systems such as UnionPay in numerous Russian cities and now has a wide distribution has also been very helpful.”

Destinations in Asia understandably catch the majority of Chinese outbound tourism, with Thailand topping the list at 9 million tourist visitors, followed by South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

“Attracting Chinese tourists remains a work in progress in many countries”, continues Devonshire-Ellis. “There are complaints with them not leaving ‘enough money on the table’. However, generally speaking, Russia has done much better than many European countries in providing signage such as Union Pay acceptance at tourist attractions and shops at major cities, travel hubs, and ATM’s. Meanwhile countries such as France and Germany manage to attract about 2 million Chinese tourists a year, while the UK performs poorly with just 300,000.  Today’s Chinese tourists are tomorrow’s consumers and national promotional individuals for the countries they visit, and tourism chiefs should be thinking longer term rather than just short term in terms of immediate financial gain. Attracting Chinese tourism requires a strategic approach, and Russia has achieved a lot in this field in the past two  years.”


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Russia Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm provides international businesses and governments with strategic, legal, tax and operational advisory services to SMEs and MNCs investing throughout Asia. We maintain 28 offices across China, India and the ASEAN nations as well as St. Petersburg and Moscow, and regularly advise clients on matters related to Chinese tourism as well as business in Russia and elsewhere in Asia.  Please contact the firm at or visit our practice at


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