Meanwhile, promised new investments from Russia have not materialized.

Some two million tourists have come to Crimea so far in 2014, during the peak summer tourist season, including 300,000 Ukrainians, according to Crimean authorities.

The biggest drop is in Ukrainian tourists. According to the Crimean Ministry of Tourism and Resorts, last year 3.5 million Ukrainians and 1.5 million Russians visited Crimea. This year, many Ukrainians are spurning Crimean resorts for political reasons.

“I think we all feel offended by the Crimean people for the referendum and all of this,” said Mykola Tymoshenko, 30, of Dnipropetrovsk, who visited a beach in the Crimean town of Simeiz on Aug. 9. He said he was there on a family emergency.

“I like Crimea but I would never come here for vacation now,” Tymoshenko said.


Children enjoy the sea at the embankment in central Sevastopol on Aug. 7. (Anastasia Vlasova)

Moscow heavily encouraged Russians to vacation in Crimea this year. But visits were hampered by transport and infrastructure problems. Tourists have three ways to get to Crimea – by plane, train or ferry. A roundtrip plane ticket from Moscow to Simferopol costs some $390. Low-cost Dobroliot airline, launched by state-owned Aeroflot, shut down due to Western sanctions a month after it was launched.

A few trains from Russia now go through Ukraine. In August, a train to Moscow that goes around Ukraine, through the Kerch ferry, was launched. The duration of the trip is quite long – some 40 hours.

Big stakes were put on the Kerch ferry that connects Russia with Crimea in its easternmost point. Five ferries work 24 hours a day to take cars and people from one side to the other. However, their capacity is not enough.

On the afternoon of Aug. 10, a line of cars some 300 meters long stood waiting on the Crimean side of the ferry station.

Andrey, a tourist from Russia’s Sverdlovsk Oblast on his way home, was standing next to his car, his t-shirt off, trying to cope with 30 degrees Celsius heat. The man didn’t share his last name because of distrust of Ukrainian journalists, but said he had been waiting for some four hours so far and considered himself lucky.


“On my way here I only had to wait for six hours. That’s fine, compared to waiting over 20 hours, like some do,” Andrey says, adding that he was happy that his wife and children took a plane instead of riding with him.

Shortly after, on Aug. 14, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that the waiting time at the ferry station reached 30 hours for the cars. After spending a month in Crimea, Andrey complains about the quality of service.

“The service is still poor. Back home, I can’t imagine a saleswoman just turning her back to me in a grocery store. Here it happened all the time,” he said. “The people and service didn’t change.”

Infrastructure is another problem. When Russian tourists get through the Kerch ferry after the long wait, they see a poor road, a cemetery and a ceramics factory. After that, a long ride to a resort awaits. The road trip can take from two to seven hours, depending on the destination.

Russian authorities plan to build a bridge over the Kerch Strait, which would help with the transportation problems, but the timeline for the project has not yet been announced.


The cost of the Kerch bridge and other transport projects will take 60 percent of the 700 billion rubles that Russia intends to invest in Crimea through 2020, in accordance with the Federal Program for Crimea Development, adopted on Aug. 11.

In July, Rustam Termigaliyev, a counselor to the Crimean prime minister, gave a news conference, where he spoke of tourism challenges in Crimea, and the need to convert the peninsula into year-round resort and focus on improving treatment in local sanatoriums

“The statistics raise the question about Crimea’s future as a resort region,” he said on July 29, as quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency.

The next day after this statement, Termigaliyev was fired from his post in the Crimean government.

Kyiv Post Lifestyle editor Olga Rudenko can be reached at [email protected].

Editor’s Note: This article has been produced with support from, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and implemented by a joint venture between NIRAS and BBC Media Action, as well as Ukraine Media Project, managed by Internews and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Comments (0)
Write the first comment for this!