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Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, Russias stringent procedures for traveling abroad were simplified considerably. Millions of Russians took advantage of the freedom to travel to go abroad on business or holidays. As a result of the break-up of the Soviet Union Russia also lost some of its most popular summer holiday centers in the Crimea, now part of the Ukraine, and on the Baltic coast of the former Soviet Baltic states, such as Latvia. All this encouraged Russians to look further a-field when choosing their holiday destinations. Approximately 8 million Russians travel abroad each year. Their top tourist destinations include Finland, Turkey, China, Poland, Germany, Spain, and other countries.   

In the chaos of the market transition of the 1990s freedom of travel also provided a vital safety line and a means of survival to many Russians who became so-called shuttle traders or shop tourists. Thousands of people went abroad, mainly to China and Turkey, in search of goods that could be bought cheaply and then resold at a higher price back home. In a matter of a few years these small traders accomplished what the Soviet regime had not be able to achieve in decades: they saturated the domestic market with cheap consumer goods. 

Russias own tourist industry has enormous potential. Seaside resorts, such as Sochi and Anapa on the Black Sea coast, are excellent for swimming, sun bathing, and water sports. Central Russian regions possess many natural beauty spots including pristine pine and birch forests, rivers and lakes. Russian cities offer many splendid architectural sites, such as the Kremlin in Moscow, and world-class museums, such the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The popular Golden Ring tour takes tourists on a trip through ancient Russian cities, such as Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Uglich, Yaroslavl, and Kostroma.

Also popular are river cruises down the Volga from Moscow to Astrakhan in the south. Along the way, tourists admire the river views and visit cities rich in history and architecture, including Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saratov, and Volgograd. It is also possible to cross Russia from east to west by the Trans-Siberian railroad, stretching for thousands of miles all the way to the Pacific, and explore the vast territories to the east of the Ural Mountains. 

The Russian tourist industry is well placed to tap the benefits from Russias rich historical heritage and extremely varied geographical locations. However, it needs significant investments to upgrade and develop the necessary infrastructure, including modern hotels and other tourist facilities.




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