In a perceptible threat to Crimea's teetering economy, the flow of tourists to the region dropped 35 percent in the first half of this year, Crimean Deputy Resorts and Tourism Minister Olga Burova said Wednesday, Interfax reported.
About 1 million vacationers have traveled to Crimea this year compared to nearly 1.7 million over the same period of 2013, Burova said.
Meanwhile, the entire number of passengers traveling to and from Crimea has fallen by 30 percent. A total of 1.7 million people have traveled to Crimea this year, down from 2.5 million in 2013, Burova said.
Travelers' chosen mode of transport has also shifted significantly, likely as a result of Russia's annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in March. The number of passengers traveling by ferry has grown by nearly three times from 2013 levels, and travel by plane has grown by 60 percent, while train travel fell to less than 50 percent its previous levels, she said.
Fifty-five percent of passengers traveled to Crimea by train in the first half of 2014, Burova said, while 25 percent traveled by ferry and 20 percent by plane.
Crimea's tourism industry was dealt a harsh blow by the annexation, as two-thirds of the 6 million tourists that traditionally travel to Crimea each summer came from Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
That client base has now all but disappeared, and the Russian government is pulling out all the stops in an effort to support the region's economy. Among other initiatives, the Federal Tourism Agency quietly sent out letters to state-owned corporations and major companies last month recommending that the companies buy package holidays to Crimea for their employees.