A weaker ruble has helped inbound Russian tourism jump 13 percent in the first nine months of the year, despite simmering geopolitical tensions that have marred diplomatic relations and trade ties with the West.
Figures from the Russian Tourism Industry Union show that foreign tourists made 2.53 million trips to the country between January and September, hitting levels not seen since 2008. Chinese tourists outstripped Germans as Russia's most frequent visitors, up 63 percent from a year earlier.
Notably, Iranian tourist numbers have also boomed, up 111 percent in the first nine months of the year, with the country's citizens now tracking as one of the top 15 foreign visitors to Russia.
Vladimir Kantorovich, the first vice president of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, told Russian news site Kommersant said a devalued ruble was helping boost numbers.
"Russia for many has become a very cheap destination," he said.
The U.S. dollar has appreciated against Russia's currency by 20 percent since January, and the greenback has gained 113 percent over the past two years with tensions over Ukraine beginning in early 2014.
The report from the tourist union suggests that a further jump in visitors should be expected closer to 2017, when further preparations are made for the 2018 World Cup.