New Direct Flights to Croatia from Russia: Aeroflot to Dubrovnik
Following the relaxing of Russian visa requirements to Croatia, Aeroflot announces direct flights to Dubrovnik. Are Russians leaving Orthodox Montenegro?
New direct flights to the Dalmatian resort of Dubrovnik from Moscow with Russian airline Aeroflot were announced on April 27 2011 on the Dubrovnik Airport website, the second sign in recent weeks that Russian interest in Croatian tourism is increasing and becoming more accessible.
Direct Flights from Moscow to Dubrovnik
According to Dubrovnik Airport, the flights - yet to appear on the Aeroflot booking system - will be three times a week. In a short statement, the airport announced that "Aeroflot, Russian national carrier will introduce new route from Moscow to Dubrovnik and vice versa with effect from June 1st till September 30 rd, three times a week, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. All flight information on www.aeroflot.ru."
Relaxing of Visa Requirements to Croatia for Russian Citizens
The flight announcement comes only a few weeks after the temporary lifting of visa restrictions for Russian citizens entering Croatia. In a clear sign to boost the tourist industry, Russians coming to Croatia have had the visa requirement waved for the tourist season, according to a statement on the website of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
"Citizens of the Russian Federation, holders of a valid regular passport, will temporarily not need a visa from 1 April to 31 October 2011 for entering the Republic of Croatia, a stay up to 90 days or a transit through the national territory of the Republic of Croatia."
The temporary lifting of visa requirements for the tourist season is not a new policy in Croatia; visa restrictions for Albanian citizens were lifted for the summer in 2010, for example, but it does raise some interesting possibilities on the potential growth of Russian tourism to Croatia, which has hitherto been dwarfed by the Russian invasion into neighbouring Montenegro.
Orthodox Montenegro versus Catholic Croatia
While the two countries share the same stunning Adriatic coastline and picturesque walled towns, the biggest difference in the tourist makeup has been the Russian factor. Russian investment, charter flights, real estate investors and tourists have poured into Montenegro in recent years, earning the popular resort of Budva of 'Little Russia.'
Huge, exclusive five-star hotels have sprung up - Russian owned and Russian populated - while the menus of many of the town's restaurants are available in Russian. Croatia, some 50km from Budva, has not had anything like the same Russian interest, in part due to the previous visa restrictions, in part due to cultural factors.
Montenegro is ostensibly Orthodox, like Russia, whereas Croatia is 90% Catholic, and while the visa-free requirements of Montenegro were certainly the most significant reasons for the tourism disparity, the cultural aspects were also a factor. Russian interest in Dubrovnik will undoubtedly be strong, as it is the most popular resort on the Adriatic, and the flights there offer an interesting combination for a holiday in Monenegro, with the border only 30km from Dubrovnik Airport.