Russia promotes new tourist brands
04. May 2012. | 12:40
Source: Voice of Russia
. Many foreigners who originally have misgivings about going to Russia have a nice surprise when they come. They are usually delighted with the museums and cathedrals. Foreigners could see much more if regional tourism developed faster.
Almost 90% of tourists who visit Russia recommend their friends to visit it too. This is the result of a poll carried out by the Moscow Higher School of Economics among foreigners. Many foreigners who originally have misgivings about going to Russia have a nice surprise when they come. They are usually delighted with the museums and cathedrals. Foreigners could see much more if regional tourism developed faster.
Foreigners come to Russia either on business or to see palaces, cathedrals and museums. The number of Russian cultural brands in foreigners’ minds has not changed since Soviet times. Foreigners who took part in the poll of the Higher School of Economics could not say if they were interested in any other places in Russia besides Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Many people know about Lake Baikal in East Siberia and the southern city of Sochi, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Russia takes part in all important tourist exhibitions and creates Internet-portals for foreigners. In April, Russian regions promoted their tourist product in three European capitals – Berlin, Paris and London, at the Russian Tourism Roadshow. Still, out of 2.3mln tourists a year, most people prefer traditional Russian itineraries, expert Roman Bobylev from the Public Tourism Chamber says. Sport, extreme or environmental tours are only an insignificant part of mass tourism in Russia, he says.
“Tours associated with the Orthodox religion are universally popular. People want to see cathedrals, monasteries and convents, and also Moscow and St. Petersburg with their museums and exhibitions. Itineraries are usually confined to the Russian Golden Ring. When we talk about beach holidays, the Black Sea coast does not have a high rating with foreign tourists. It will take at least 10 years to change foreigners’ views about beach holidays in the Caucasus. The Lake Baikal region does not have a developed infrastructure, there are sometimes problems with transport.”
As a result, foreigners get a very limited impression of Russia. However, according to the Higher School of Economics’ poll results, most people are happy with what they have seen. Out of those who have changed their opinion of Russia, 90% think of the country better now. Experts are convinced that Russia could become a very successful player on the tourist market, on condition it simplified its visa-issuing, improved its infrastructure, reduced transportation prices, built a lot of comfortable economy-class hotels and diversified its tourist product. Regions that manage to solve these problems are usually a success, Vice President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Yuri Barzykin says.
"The Lake Baikal region and its neghbours, such as the Altai Region, are developing dynamically now. They have managed to raise the number of tourists manifold, mostly from South Korea, Japan and China. In the north-west, the Republic of Karelia and the Pskov Region are also improving the tourist infrastructure. Tourism in the southern region of Russia is also growing steadily due to the visa-free travel system with Turkey. The Kamchatka Peninsula, the island of Sakhalin and sea cruises in the Far East are next on the list of priorities.”
Yuri Barzykin believes that Russian spas and health resorts could also be a success but their services have no international certificates and their prices are often unreasonable . As a result, Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic is much more popular than the Caucasian Mineral Waters region which has mineral springs with water of an equally high quality.
“There is a lot to be done to create a tourist product for foreigners, - Yuri Barzykin says, - but first of all we should develop internal tourism.” This is what France does, and it also is the leader in inbound tourism. Experts believe that the future belongs to environmental and sport tourism, so they should be given a priority.