File - The Black Sea gushes around the sun terrace of the Zhemchuzhina sanatorium outside the Crimean town of Yalta in this March 11, 2014.(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
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A few months ago, 2014 looked like it might shape up as a decent year for Crimean tour operator Gulzade Odamanova, who even had a few dozen overseas bookings on her calendar from Germans, Poles and the occasional Italian.Today, apart from the Russian military base at Sevastopol, tourism is still Crimea's main industry. According to official data, about 70,000 of the peninsula's 2 million people are directly employed in tourism, but 60 percent of its population depends on it for at least part of their income.Of the 6-8 million tourists who visit each year, more than 60 percent come from Ukraine, from which Crimea has just seceded, and only a quarter from Russia, the country it has voted to join. Many of the Ukrainian tourists were sent on holidays paid for with state funds for public sector workers.Russians arrive by air rather than train, so Crimea will now have to compete with farther-flung destinations like Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Greece and even Thailand, as well as Russia's own new $50 billion Black Sea Olympic resort in Sochi.These days, many of the hotels are well worn, with few of the modern conveniences Russian tourists can find at other easily reached destinations elsewhere on the Black Sea or Mediterranean.
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