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On Thursday each week my column appears in the Euro Weekly News. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Feel free to put your oar in but in a constructive way if you please. Thanks so much. - Michael

18 June 2013 @ 14:09




Described as ‘saviours’ of the property and tourist markets, the emerging Russian presence on Spain’s Mediterranean coast is a blessing. It is hoped our business community does not lose the opportunity to take advantage of it.

The Costa communities’ economic mainstay is based on our sub-tropical climate. Like moths drawn to a flame, northern Europeans are attracted to our sun kissed climate. Russia, despite being the world’s largest country, like Canada, is geographically north. It has few options to offer sun-starved Russians.

Russian investors and tourists boost the economies of the Mediterranean basin’s resorts. Fifty per cent of Russian trade is with the European Union and its German turnover is €57 billion.

Russia’s economy, compared to that of the European Union, is booming. Spending by Russia’s nouveau rich and emerging middle class is exceptional.

Spain has intense competition. It shares the Mediterranean with nearly twenty other nations, half of them hungry for tourists. Rival France has its Mediterranean, Germany its spa towns and idyllic southern states, Italy its Italian Riviera, Greece its islands.

EU nations do take advantage of the Russian speaking influx. Legislation in Poland, Ireland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Georgia, has been eased to meet the needs of the big-spending Russian invasion.

The economies of former Eastern European nations are increasingly based on the Russian rouble. To show their friendliness towards the Russians, the Czechs snubbed the U.S. Short trip visas are now more easily acquired. Border controls offer an easier and faster welcome to the high spending Russians.

The Polish City of Gdansk, formerly Germany‘s Danzig, benefits to the tune of €20 million spending each month by Kaliningrad’s cross-border Russian consumers.

A Costa company recently contacted my Ukrainian-Russian wife, Nadia. Prepared to invest in their health service related business they intend to target the Russian speaking community. Naturally, they wanted their marketing in the Russian language.

Their business acumen has to be applauded. Russian property buyers have overtaken the British, German and Scandinavian markets. Much the same can be said of tourism. To their credit, the investment conscious local authorities, builders, developers and tourist bodies are laying out the red carpet. Will the business community stay in bed?

The arriving Russians are loaded and are here to stay. The internet means they can run their homeland businesses from their Spanish villas.

The secretary of Provia (Association of Real Estate Developers Alicante) concedes the Russians are an important market. Altea’s prestigious Villa Gadea Hotel and Torrevieja government recently hosted a real estate event aimed at Russian buyers. Business community readers should note the words of Antoni Mayor of the Benidorm Hotel Association. “It is a goldmine we have yet to exploit.”

Far too often, potentially successful Costa community businesses have been blamed for complacency. Truly entrepreneurial rivals, like the Russians, will soon set up rival businesses. If so, it could be the last nail in the coffin for complacent businesses.

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