The wanderlust
Sergey Pozdnyakov
Head of the Press Expert Alliance

The wanderlust

Most Russians traditionally celebrate the New Year’s Eve at home, with their families. About 3 to 5 percent of the Russians prefer celebrating this holiday ‘anywhere else than at home’, in another region or even abroad. In the EcoTourism Expert’s interview with Sergey Pozdnyakov, one of the leading Russian experts in tourism, he spoke about the peculiarities of planning the trips during the New Year holidays.

- The statistics for the last New Year show that about 70% of the Russians celebrated the New Year at home, with their families. 10% of them celebrated this holiday season visiting friends or relatives. 2% celebrate the New Year’s Eve and the holiday season on a trip in Russia, and only 1% had a party at a cafe, restaurant or went abroad. To your opinion, will these percentages change this year?

- I think that this year, there will be no big changes in the ways of celebrating the New Year holidays. Now, people prefer not to go to any places. Therefore, I suppose that the number of those who would like to celebrate the New Year’s Eve at home, with their families, will slightly increase.

It is clear that someone will choose to celebrate the New Year’s Eve and the New Year holidays anywhere else than at home, for example, in the Moscow suburbs, so all recreational centres and guest houses have long been fully booked. The small percentage of people that used to celebrate the New Year’s Eve and spend their holiday season abroad will decrease and, most likely, they will also choose an option near Moscow.

In a word, people still have money left, but there is almost nowhere to go.

- What areas are most in demand for travelling to celebrate the New Year’s Eve and spend the New Year holidays?

 - In Russia, people go to places where there are some conditions for celebrating the New Year’s Eve and spend their New Year holidays or an interesting environment. But in fact, most often they choose good hotels, especially those people who have money for that as celebrating the New Year’s Eve and spending the holiday season anywhere else than at home has been rather costly for many years.

- Maybe, some new locations can be offered?

- Sure, today celebrating the New Year’s Eve and enjoying these winter holidays in the so-called ‘estates’ is becoming more popular. These are not old renovated manors of the nobility, but rather secluded hotels, usually in the forest, where people can walk and go skiing. There are still few such ‘estates’ because the price for such a vacation option is rather expensive, to put it mildly.

- How high is it?

- On average, the cost of celebrating the New Year’s Eve and spending the holiday season is from 40 to 50 thousand roubles per person for a few days. Of course, this amount includes a dinner on the New Year’s Eve, but nevertheless, the number of people able to afford spending New Year holidays this way remains limited.

- And what about any specific areas, maybe Baikal or St. Petersburg?

- The Moscow Region was always the priority place and it was not very popular to travel, for example, to St. Petersburg for the New Year holidays since the prices also rise very much in the Northern capital during the holiday season.

In addition, as for St. Petersburg, more people with middle incomes go there during the year than with high incomes. And there are problems with tickets on the eve of the New Year, practically all tickets are sold out very quickly and only very expensive ones are available.

That is why the Moscow suburbs were, are and will remain among the favourite destinations for a long time in the future.

- This is convenient and of benefit to residents of the Moscow Region...

On the one hand, I agree. But on the other hand, the most difficult problem is that the local authorities do not want to do anything to develop the New Year’s tourism infrastructure, since they think that ‘people will come anyway’.

Businesses, of course, build hotels of different levels, renovate old ones, but this is not always enough. Moreover, the ‘high season’ is approximately from December 15 to January 15, and against this backdrop and in anticipation of a big money flow, they ignore the required improvement.

- How much higher is a stay at a hotel on New Year’s Eve than in usual time? Is this a worldwide practice?

- Indeed, this is a worldwide practice. As for Russia, our prices on New Year’s Eve and during the long New Year holiday season usually increased earlier by forty-fifty percent, and sometimes even several-fold.

Now, the hoteliers lowered their expectations a little bit. If you do not take a luxury segment where the cost of recreation can skyrocket, the cost will increase by 12-25 percent in middle-class hotels.

- It is clear that in December, it is too late to talk about this, but how much in advance do you need to book a hotel and services at a vacation spot to avoid paying exorbitant prices?

“Obviously, you still have to pay more. And it won’t be possible to book much in advance since not every hotel can calculate the cost of the dinner on the New Year’s Eve, for example, and related entertainment, as well as fees to the presenter and other entertainers in advance.

Earlier, by the way, hotels for the New Year’s Eve and the holiday season were sold out almost in August-September, people planned their vacations six months in advance. Now, everything has changed a bit, the planning horizon has narrowed. This is partly good as at first, prices asked by many hotels for the party on the New Year’s Eve are huge, and by December, they realize that no one books at their hotel for this money and reduce their prices.

- Do you prefer to spend the New Year’s Eve and the New Year holidays at home or anywhere else or, maybe, visiting your friends or relatives?

- For many years, I have been celebrating the New Year’s Eve at my dacha (country house) but on January 1, I normally travel to some place. This New Year will not be an exception and on the 1st of January, I will depart for Samarkand, Uzbekistan.