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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkMexico & Banderas Bay Area News 

Jalisco’s Recovering Tourist Sector Courts Russians

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September 30, 2013

The number of tourists from Russia in Mexico increased threefold in the past two years. According to Mexico's Tourism Secretary, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, 55,400 Russian tourists visited the country this year.

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico - Boosted by an influx of international tourists from far-flung destinations such as Russia, Jalisco has reversed the recent decline in the number of visitors flying into its airports.

From January to August, 3.29 million people flew to the state, 2.1 percent more than in the same period of 2012, according to the Pacific Airport Group (GAP). This was a welcome recovery after the number of people flying to Jalisco had fallen by 2.2% in 2011 and another 0.4 percent in 2012.

In total, 774,634 foreign tourists stayed at hotels in Jalisco in 2012 – 2,000 more than in 2011 – with Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta being their preferred destinations. According to the Hotel Price Index 2013 by, most of the foreign tourists who visit Jalisco are from Brazil, Peru, Chile, Canada, the United States and even Russia.

The number of Russian tourists visiting Mexico last year increased by more than any other foreign demographic. A total of 77,000 Russians came to Mexico in 2012 and that figure is set to be surpassed this year, with 49,000 having visited just from January to May, according to the Tourism Department.

Federal and state authorities are keen to attract more Russian tourists, as on average they are willing to spend up to $226 dollars per night on hotel rooms, even more than Brazilian ($225 dollars) or Australian ($202 dollars) tourists.

Earlier this year, the Jalisco Tourism Department coordinated with travel agencies in an attempt to drawn more Russians to the state. The main deterrent to be overcome is the language barrier, according to Yuri Zhuravlev, a Russian citizen who first came to Mexico six years ago and settled in Puerto Vallarta three years later.

"Russians travel a lot and I know that here there is no such service for people, it is not common for them to speak English, much less Spanish, they need special attention," Zhuraylev told Spanish-language daily Mural. Enthralled by Mexico’s cultural riches, Zhuraylev established Rumex Group Soluciones Alternativas, an agency that takes Russians on tours of Mexico’s lesser known destinations, away from the mega resorts like Cancun.