As Russia's relations with the West remain tense, Mandarin can be heard more and more often amid the tourists visiting Moscow's main attractions. Sonia Legg explains why.
It's not the warmest holiday destination but there's good reason to visit Russia at the moment. The weak rouble means it's cheap for visitors. And the Chinese in particular are cashing in - with thousands spending their lunar new year holiday in Moscow. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE TOURIST, YU LI, SAYING: "Russia is very beautiful, I have never been here before and I like the architecture. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE TOURIST, CHRISTINE, SAYING "I'm here on holiday because I've never seen the snow." The World Without Borders Tourist Association runs a programme to make life in Moscow as easy as possible for Chinese visitors. It has translators and offers menus, maps and guide books in Chinese languages. 30 businesses have signed up, including shops, hotels and restaurants. Svetlana Pyatikhatka is its Executive Director. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WORLD WITHOUT BORDERS TOURIST ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SVETLANA PYATIKHATKA, SAYING: "Tourism flow increased by around 63 percent with group tourism accounting for over 50 percent of that." Russia's economy needs all the help it can get at the moment. The collapse of global oil prices - its main export - and Western sanctions are taking their toll. Chinese tourists won't fill the void - but every little helps. And Russian shops are boasting of goods to rival Milan - without the euro exchange rate.