Cancun, world-renowned for its gorgeous, paradisiacal, white sandy beaches and pristine, turquoise waters, is visited annually by an array of tourists arriving from all around the world. All of them have in common the idea of finding a warm getaway far from the cold, snowy scenery, and of having a wonderfully relaxing time, with just the few clothes you have on and a glass of tequila in your hand.
The most common visitors are travelers from our neighbor country, the United States of America, thanks to its proximity. In different seasons, we also receive tourists from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Canada, France, and South America, among others. However in the last few years, a very singular kind of tourism has appeared from a land far, far away: Russia.
With the economic and social opening of the late 80's, known as "Perestroika," winds of change arrived in Russia and decisive reforms were made to the socialist system. For this reason many people felt the desire to travel and visit destinations that once seemed so far away and difficult to reach... such as Mexico.
The new millennium brought the first Russian tourists, eager to visit the Caribbean, who would generally spend long seasons in Cancun's most luxurious hotels. As economic changes kept happening in the ex-Soviet Union, more people arrived in the land of the tequila, only now it was not the privileged Russian high -classes who traveled but the rising upper middle class, avid to travel not only to Cancun, but to many different places all around Mexico in seven-day tourist circuits.
Eventhough New Year's is one of their favorite seasons to travel -since they love to spend winter in warm lands- these tourists arrive throughout the year. They are renowned for being demanding and anxious, and for their extraordinary curiosity towards Mexican culture and its archeological sites. For all of these reasons, they require highly trained tourist guides who speak fluent Russian.
Their demands can sometimes be extreme, such as requesting limousines to pick them up at the airport, private boats, and deluxe transportation. Some of them make special requests such as private tourist guides to accompany them all through their vacation; this, of course, is rather difficult due to the shortage of people who speak Russian.
Our Russian friends usually come from freezing areas, such as Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Samara and Novgorod. Despite the complex visa application procedure, requiring 40 days and 15 kinds of documents including bank account statements, they do not give up because the yearn of spending a vacation in paradise outweighs any bureaucratic hassles.
Nowadays, there are just a few travel agencies in Cancun that operate this kind of tourism. Without a shred of a doubt, the leading agency is Best Day Travel, since it features the most specialized tourist guides with absolute proficiency in the language.
Tequila instead of Vodka, and azure Caribbean waters instead of whiteout conditions are what our Russian traveler expects upon arrival at the Cancun International Airport. The traditional Mexican warmth, the Latin savor, the Mayan culture, the exuberant nature on land and sea, the partying... are just a few memories they will carry with them when returning to their freezing but beautiful Russia.
From Russia to Cancun: Far away… So close
- Paula Camera