Moscow Hotel Bookings Surpass European Cities Facing Virus Restrictions

Moscow hotels have the highest occupancy rates in Europe, the Vedomosti business daily reported Wednesday, citing data from consulting company Cushman & Wakefield.

Unlike other European cities, the Russian capital has remained relatively open with only limited restrictions imposed when new coronavirus infections began to soar in the fall. Since late January, most restrictions have been lifted on museums, theaters and other cultural institutions, while bars and nightclubs have been allowed to operate as normal.

Moscow took the lead from Istanbul with 43.6% of its hotel capacity filled in January, Vedomosti reported. It was followed by Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku in second place and Istanbul and Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg sharing third place.

The latest rankings are a far cry from the pre-pandemic days of January 2020, when London led in first place followed by Paris, Istanbul, Manchester and Madrid, with Moscow trailing behind in 15th place.

The news comes amid reports of tourism operators planning to organize “vaccine tours” for foreigners wishing to receive Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Russian health officials this week said that the prospect of vaccine tourism remains unlikely.

Currently, Russia’s borders are open to citizens of 21 countries that have reciprocal flight agreements including Turkey, Tanzania, Switzerland, UAE, Maldives, Egypt, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Serbia, Cuba, Japan, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Vietnam, India, Qatar, Finland, Greece and Singapore. Flights with Britain have been suspended since December over the emergence of a new coronavirus variant there.

Moscow Non/Fiction Book Fair Goes Online with Belarusian Nobel Prize Winner Aleksievich

The traditional format of the international book fair Non/Fiction was postponed until next spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But to keep the reading public happy, the organizers are moving their meetings with famous authors online this and next weekend.

On Dec. 5,6, 12 and 13 anyone can tune in to hear discussions with such prominent writers and cultural figures as Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus); Frans de Waal (Netherlands); Evgeny Vodolazkin (Russia); Carlo Ginzburg (Italy); Olivia Liang (UK); Pavel Pepperstein (Russia); Lyudmila Ulitskaya (Russia); Karl Zimmer (U.S.) and Leonid Yuzefovich (Russia). Non/Fiction has also invited leading Russian publishers to talk about the state of their industry today.

And to help readers in self-isolation keep up with current trends, Non/Fiction has compiled three lists of their top picks for adults, for children and for readers of comic books.

Among their recommendations for best books of  2020 are “The Virus That Broke the Planet” by Irina Yakutenko, “Yegor Letov. My Defense” by Alexei Koblov, and “The Uninhabited Land. Life After Global Warming” by David Wallace-Wells.

This year to help readers negotiate pandemic restrictions, the organizers have expanded the boundaries of their event by selling books from their three lists of top picks in participating stores across Russia at a 10% discount.

The full program of the book fair events, links to online discussions with famous authors, and recommended books, is available on the official website.

The traditional format fair will take place in March 2021. Check their site for updates on the schedule.

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