For expats and travellers considering a visit to Russia in 2015 there is good news on the horizon. Since a high in 2013, the value of the Russian Rouble has tumbled against both the US Dollar and Sterling. In the last quarter of 2014 the drop in value of the Rouble was nothing short of precipitous, leading to some major changes in the Russian economy.
For one, Russians are now travelling abroad less. The reason is almost exclusively financial, where the tumbling value of the Russian currency has almost doubled the cost of international travel for Russians. A poor exchange rate, combined with higher living costs in many popular holiday destinations, is making it impractical for Russians.
Right now this means there are bargains to be had for travellers in areas historically popular with Russians. Hotels are struggling to meet their targets and so falling prices and promotions are aplenty. Two examples of where this lack of Russian tourist money is being felt are Thailand and Dubai. For those willing to do their research, there are discounts to be had. Many middle-class Russians, it seems, will be holidaying closer to home until the value of crude oil (a key driver of the Russian economy) picks up.
This problem is not just confined to the middle classes. According to reports from hoteliers even high-level resorts normally popular with Russian tourists are lying empty, leading to a bonanza of deals and promotions for those willing to do some hunting. All around the world there are bargains to be had; hardly surprising when the largest country in the world suddenly stops going on vacation.
At present, tourists and expats seeking to visit Russia itself will find themselves doubly blessed. Russian hotels are also feeling the bite, doing what they can to attract your business. However when you combine these discounts with the comparatively low cost of living in Russia right now, opportunities abound.
As a result of the falling Rouble, everything will be comparatively cheaper for visitors from the US and the UK. From food to souvenirs, from public transport to vacation activities, a strong Dollar and Pound means that holidays to Russia can cost less than ever before. In fact, industry insiders report that flights to Russia are now at an all-time low, with return flights offered for little more than the cost of dinner for two by some budget airlines.
From the wonders of St Petersburg and Moscow to the wide open spaces of the Russian Steppe, Russia can be a truly memorable country to visit. For many people though its former cost to visit has kept tourists away. For now, it seems, all that is changing.