June 2, 00:19 (UTC+3)

Destination Russia – shifting trends towards domestic and incoming tourism

KEY CONCLUSIONS:

  • The last two to three years witnessed a strong growth in the domestic and incoming tourism in Russia

“Last year, Russia made it to the top 10 of the world's most visited countries. Our country ranked 43rd, ahead of Turkey, in the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index in 2016,” said Oleg Safonov, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism.

“The Russian Federation generally records over 30 million international tourist arrivals annually, a number, which will most certainly go up given the expected tourist volumes for the upcoming FIFA Confederation Cup and even more so for the 2018 World Cup,” said Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).   

  • Tourism as driver for regional development

“Tourism generates strong fiscal revenues. <…> In 2016, tourism had an economic impact of ca. RUB 250 billion,” said Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg.

CHALLENGES:

  • Relatively low contribution to the national GDP

“Russia is underinvested in tourism. If you are looking at the big international picture, you can always see countries which have good infrastructure and which are quite dynamic in pushing tourism. They have proportion of tourism in the GDP of approximately 10%. Russia is below this level,” said Klaus Mangold, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, TUI.  

  • Underdeveloped tourist infrastructure and services

“It is no secret that many museums have not been renovated since the Soviet times,” said Dmitry Mironov, Acting Governor of Yaroslavl Region.

“Potential barriers [to visiting Russia include] visas, having cheap flights, making sure that there are quality facilities,” said Olivier Gremillon, Managing Director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Airbnb Inc.

  • No tourist brand in Russia

“Promoting Russian tourism inside and outside the country is impossible without having a tourist brand. 146 out of 195 countries do have tourist brands. Unfortunately, our country is one of the few without such a brand,” said Oleg Safonov.

SOLUTIONS:

  • Government support and a dedicated federal target programme

"It is hard to overestimate the importance of this programme, as it covers the entire country from its Western to the Far Eastern borders and all the way from the North to the South. <…> This is a key consideration. Without the public-private funding and cooperation schemes, we are doomed to fail in maintaining the high growth rates," said Oleg Safonov.

  • Private investments

"Russian tourism has a significant potential waiting to be unlocked by private investors. What we need is a serious private investor who knows how to do business," said Svetlana Orlova, Governor of Vladimir Region.

  • Grants for small tourist projects

"We must recognise the importance of small tourist initiatives as an add-on to the big tourist projects. <…> We need to engage with intellectuals and enthusiasts who come up with interesting initiatives and know how to implement them," said Sergey Bachin, General Director, Roza Khutor.

  • New tourist products and destinations

"We need to put new programmes in place. <...> We work to promote such high-potential areas as industrial and culinary tourism. This year, we are going to pilot an underwater archaeology diving project at the Rybinsk Reservoir,” said Dmitry Mironov.

  • Tourist visa facilitation arrangements

​"Several years ago, we introduced visa-free 72-hour visits to St. Petersburg for cruise passengers coming from the EU. <...> I believe that this was a good and useful initiative, and we should apply it to other means of transport, too," said Georgy Poltavchenko.

  • High quality tourist infrastructure "We are only starting to address this high priority infrastructural challenge. It requires increasing the number of hotel rooms, constructing new accommodation facilities, developing itineraries, and offering efficient transportation solutions,” said Sergey Bachin.
  • National tourist brand 

“We believe that building a strong tourist brand will effectively promote and stimulate both domestic and incoming tourism in Russia,” said Oleg Safonov.