In light of the Ukraine-Russia crisis, the U.S. and the European Union were quick to impose sanctions that would make it difficult for Russian oligarchs to travel to their respective countries. Consequently, many countries have seen a sharp decline in Russian visitors.
But not all countries, as it turns out. In fact, according to a new report from Skift, Russians are still flocking to their favorite destinations — Dubai and Maldives chief among them.
“I wanted to leave Russia as soon as possible and Dubai was the best choice as flights to most of the destinations from Russia were cancelled. The destination gives a 90-day visa with almost no requirements. It wasn’t difficult at all,” a Russian software developer told Skift under the condition of anonymity. “I had everything I needed like Covid tests, but even those weren’t required. A free test was made available right at the Dubai airport. I’m not going to live here. I just need some time to decide where to go next.”
Further, after seeing a number of Russian oligarch-owned yachts in Barcelona, former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations Alex Finley started the hashtag #YachtWatch. “A number of them seem to be going to the Maldives or to the Seychelles or are already over in the Arabian Sea near Dubai,” Finley said.
Of course, this is made possible by carriers like Emirates, Flydubai and Air Arabia who, in spite of the current climate, continue to service major Russian cities — an enterprise that the tourism industries in places like Maldives and Dubai stand to benefit from.
“The inbound figures from these destinations also tell a similar story. Russia continues to retain its top spot among source markets for Maldives Tourism with a market share of over 14 per cent (as of March 13, 2022),” Peden Doma Bhutia wrote. “In Dubai, Russia has become the third-largest source market for the travel and tourism sector with 70,000 arrivals in January, up from 27,000 in January 2021.”
According to UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, 2.97 million people have left Ukraine since February 24, as of March 15. There are zero corresponding reports to date of any in Maldives.
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