Russians are rushing to 'exotic, trendy' Hong Kong
Hong Kong's credentials as a truly international city are set to receive a boost from the growing influx of tourists, business investors and long-stay expatriates from Russia.
A survey by Asia2Go, a Hong Kong-based research and events company, forecasts the number of Russian visitors to the city this year will increase 25 per cent on the 186,461 in 2012. That figure was up 80 per cent from 2008.
Figures from the Russian consulate suggest 800 Russians now live in the city, double the number since then-president Dmitry Medvedev visited the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011. As registration with the consulate is optional, the Hong Kong Russian Club estimates the true figure could be as high as 2,000.
For 30-year-old Muscovite Julia Getman, who has lived in Hong Kong for two years, the city is more international and has more career opportunities than her homeland.
"I lived in China for six years before I moved here. I think Hong Kong is a good middle point between the East and the West as well as between China and Russia," she said.
Hong Kong's growing business ties with Russia have encouraged migration.
Mark Zavadskiy, CEO of Asia2Go and president of the Hong Kong Russian Club, said: "Unlike other Western or European countries, Hong Kong is an exotic, upscale and trendy place for Russia's younger generation. There is much less interest in Moscow as a capital of money and opportunity; people are setting their sights on Asia, particularly Hong Kong."
Russians have had visa-free access to Hong Kong since 2009, and in the past two years direct flights from second-tier Russian cities such as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Novosibirsk have been launched.
Anna Naumenko, 23, who moved to the city a year ago, fell in love with it during a holiday.
"Hong Kong is like an Asian New York. After my vacation I looked for a job immediately and moved after six months because I want to experience the city's culture and language."