Red tours on the rise as nostalgic retirees look to Russia

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Statistics from the country's tourism authority showed that Russia welcomed a record 800,000 visitors from the Chinese mainland last year, double the number two years earlier.

Such red tours are popular among those in their 60s and 70s, who grew up during the time of the former Soviet Union, industry observers said.

Fu Gang, a retired purchasing specialist from the Shanghai Railway Bureau who visited Russia in July, said most tourists were in their 60s like him, and had a strong emotional connection with railways and Marxism-Leninism, which his generation grew up with.

"The music, culture and large-scale industries in the former Soviet Union had a strong influence on our country and people my age. The trip fulfilled a wish I had for decades," said Fu, 61.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution and a series of trips specially designed for Chinese tourists has been launched. In St. Petersburg, known as Petrograd from 1914 to 1924, the local government is promoting tours associated with the former Soviet Union with itineraries titled "Chinese comrades in red Petrograd" and the "February Revolution in Petrograd".

The Russian government has also started to encourage airports, railway stations, hotels and restaurants to provide more Chinese-friendly services in the past two years.

More than 50 such facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg now have members of staff fluent in Chinese, accept China UnionPay cards and supply hot drinking water.

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