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Tourism And Commercial Flights In The Soviet Union  
User currently offlineAeroflot001 From Argentina, joined Oct 2009, 464 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 8348 times:

I have been studying Russian for the past 2 years and of course we all know abut the Soviet union etc. But I asked my teacher who lived there for a few months over 4 years if there was any tourism. He said there wasn't much because of the whole political situation however he was in a way a tourist because he went to Moscow to travel and learn about the city and Country etc. however he was taking hi Russian course to Receive a degree as a foreign student.

As for Flying he said he flew multiple times with Aeroflot of Course to St. Petersburg and outside of the CCCP and it was pretty straightforward.
He told us about how the closest thing to a modern day tourist that he did was take a "cruise" from the Soviet Union through the Mediterranean to Cuba.

So my questions are how was tourism in the Soviet Union and what could one do
and How was flying for both foreigners and citizens alike.


9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 12165 posts, RR: 56
Reply 1, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 8325 times:

It was possible with the right permissions and the right pieces of paper. One member of my family travelled extensively within the Soviet Union on all types of aircraft and over the Trans-Siberian Railway, just for the adventure.

Despite being more open than many people think, there were many cities and regions which were completely off limits unless you had a very important reason for being there. These were cities home to large military bases, munitions manufacturing, or other state secrets.

...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
User currently offlineAeroflot001 From Argentina, joined Oct 2009, 464 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 8290 times:

I see and yes like my teacher told me it didnt take an arm and a leg to be able to get in.
I can imagine that such cities and areas would be cut off and that most tourists would have gone to St. petersburg and moscow as my teacher did.

How would one be able to get such permissions,
Im sure it was slmost impossible for any US citizens until the late 80s when Gorbachyov and Reagn were hand in hand

User currently offlineEddyAlbena From Netherlands, joined Nov 2010, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 8282 times:

Had to do some research on Russian airports not too long ago. Can't remember much about it and don't have the documents either, but their amibition was really high. LED, DME and VKO have some interesting expansion plans although I don't know what their exact strategy is behind all this.
Where are the opportunities?
The image of RUssia has always been a little vague, but I think it's slowly increasing (can't back it up, just my thoughts).
One could think of becoming a transfer-hub for E-Asian destinations, but there's already enough service out of W-Europe airports.
I'm not aware of demographical situations in Russia, but maybe that's where they get their ambition to expand from.

User currently offlineHT From Germany, joined May 2005, 6526 posts, RR: 19
Reply 4, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 8270 times:

While I cannot comment qualified on intra-USSR travel for touristic reasons, there is the following I can shed some light onto:

Having been a citizen of West Germany (FRG) back then, I participated in two trips to Moscow for touristic reasons.
Such package tours (as individual in group travel) easily could be booked in almost every travel agency.
IIRC, everthing on the Soviet side was handled by Intourist, who also took care of visa.

The first trip in 1985 was a closed group of ballroom dancing students (most of them mature) and we travelled wiht a group of 36 by coach from around Hannover into East Germany (GDR) heading towards SXF, back the central airport for the GDR.
We boarded a scheduled flight SXF to SVO which was operated by a SU IL-86.
Transfer and everything else was organized, however it was no problem at all to roam the city on our own.

I returned 2 years later as individual in a group via the same routing.

Similar City trips were offered to Moscow and Leningrad (now: St. Petersburg).
More extensive trips were on offer for 1 through 3 weeks of organized travel to Siberia (even onward to China) or the southern republics including cities like Buchara, Samarkand and Tashkent. - The whole family still regrets that we had not gone on such a tour; now ma parents are too old.

Also, vacation trips to the beaches of the Balck Sea were on offer with Jalta and Sochi the most popular spots.
Jalta and Sochi, OTOH, were also the spots that Soviet-people could spend their vacation, provided they were selected to participate in such tours.

Related information:
Popular travel destinations for summer vacation abroad for East Germans were the beaches of Bulgaria and - to some extent - Yugoslavia and Romania.
Howver, travel was highly controlled, especially to destinations outside the own country.

So much for now,

Carpe diem ! Life is too short to waste your time ! Keep in mind, that today is the first day of the rest of your life !
User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 6285 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 8260 times:

Tourism travel was available to "westerners" from the 1960s at least. A guy I worked with in 1971 had traveled the "Trans Siberian Railway" a few years before that (1967/68), he talked about it quite a lot. Their itinerary was tightly controlled and many facilities were below western standards.

Another work mate traveled thru the "Stans" and other southern parts of the USSR later in the 1970.

So while not large volume tourist travel was happening in the USSR for at least 30 years before it dissolved.


[Edited 2010-11-12 03:08:45]

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User currently offlineBNAOWB From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 401 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8179 times:

According to a 55 year old Russian-Uzbek friend of mine, travel within the Soviet Union by Soviet citizens was pretty much unrestricted. This surprised me since I had been taught in school during the Cold War that Soviet citizens were very restricted regarding where they could travel within their own country. Of course, travel by train would have been far more common than travel by air (even for shockingly long distances - across Siberia or deep into Central Asia). Much of this travel would have been related to the fact that many Soviet families were spread out over a huge geographic area - parents in Ukraine, sister in Siberia, brother in Tashkent, another sister in Yerevan, etc. According to my friend, the borders of the individual republics of the USSR were not important. You would not know when you crossed a border. However, leaving the USSR would have been an entirely different matter....

User currently offlineaivisavia From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2010, 160 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 8106 times:

My parents were living in USSR (Latvian USSR) and they tell me that locals could travel across the country, for very small prices. They didn't fly but train travel was popular! The place they lived in was very small, but every year many other soviets came there to relax! It was easy for them, they have been in many Soviet Countries, however since the breakup it's much more difficult to travel to those countries than it was before they say.

User currently offlinePlymSpotter From Spain, joined Jun 2004, 12165 posts, RR: 56
Reply 8, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 8104 times:

Quoting BNAOWB (Reply 6):
Of course, travel by train would have been far more common than travel by air (even for shockingly long distances - across Siberia or deep into Central Asia).

Even so, air travel was still much more common in Russia during the mid to late Soviet era than it is now. The destinations and routes served has contracted massively since the break up of the original Aeroflot.

...love is just a camouflage for what resembles rage again...
User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Austria, joined Mar 2004, 3477 posts, RR: 25
Reply 9, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8089 times:

Don't have too much time right now... but quickly...

My grandmother was a very well respected and nationally recorgnized Moscow tour guide with Intourist (the ONLY tour operator in the Soviet Union, originally established by Joseph Stalin).

She had worked there for over 30 years. Let me tell you, there was A LOT of tourists pouring into Moscow and St. Petersburg starting in the 60's and on. Contrary to what people think, tourism was huge. Her years at Intourist are invaluable. Her entire professional, athletic life during and post Intourist years was spent in close contact with over 50+ of her "tourists" - who remained very dear friends. The relationships that were forged between guides and visitors were different from tourism of our generation.


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