LONDON — Tatyana Khanina and her boyfriend, Dmitry Anikhovsky, were wandering around, along with hundreds of other tourists, outside Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Muscovites visiting Britain, they were enjoying themselves the only way they could — by looking.
“Things are so expensive, we’re just not buying anything,” she said.
Anikhovsky, snapping photos as Khanina posed in front of Parliament and Big Ben in the rose light of the setting sun, said that they would just have to make do with sightseeing.
Anikhovsky, a businessman in his early 30s, said he had lived and worked in London in the past; now he was showing Khanina the city on her first trip here.
“But even for coffee it’s at least double the price,” he said. “We’ll continue to go on holidays, but we just won’t buy things.”
“Now it’s better to buy stuff at home than come here to buy it,” she said.
The collapse of the Russian ruble — down more than 45 percent against the dollar this year — has jangled nerves in Russia, but the reverberations are being felt far beyond the country’s borders. The price of travel has nearly doubled, Russians say, pricing many people out of more exotic plans and causing them to think instead of domestic vacation spots, such as Sakhalin, Lake Baikal, St. Petersburg and now, of course, Crimea.
Elena Polobryukhova, a London tour guide, said the number of Russians booking excursions had dropped by 75 to 80 percent, compared with last year.
“The situation is considerably worse than last year,” she said. “What else do you want me to say?”
Britain granted 146,588 visitor visas to Russian-passport holders in the year to September, a fall of 10.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Home Office. But that was well before the ruble took its dive.
And Russians who do come are spending less, as much as 27 percent less than the previous year, said Global Blue, a Switzerland-based company that handles tax refunds for tourists coming from outside the European Union.
Until last year, industry experts saw the rise of the middle-class Russian tourist as a driver of European recovery. In 2013, nearly 32 million tourists from Russia visited Europe, an 11 percent rise compared with the previous year.
But the European Travel Commission expects those figures to fall by at least 10 percent this year and again the next, with sunnier destinations like Spain and Turkey bearing the brunt of the decline.
The most popular Western European destinations for Russian tourists have been France, Italy, Germany and Spain, with Britain close behind. But the decline in ticket sales has been rapid.
Ski resorts in Austria have already seen tourist flows fall by more than 40 percent, reported Gazeta.ru, a Russian online newspaper, citing a Russian travel agency. According to DaTravel.com, another agency, ticket sales for the most popular destinations, such as Paris, Barcelona, Rome, London, Vienna and Milan, have fallen by 28 percent.