The goal of the Federal Tourism Agency – to create an image of Russia, you want to come back

Presentation of Visit Russia in Madrid. Photo: Rosturism

“Visit Russia” project is a powerful and effective tool of the Federal Tourism Agency to attract the visitors from other countries and it is gaining momentum. The story of a rich centuries-old culture likes ours – it is a long-term and strategic task, but it is already bearing fruit in many areas of culture, politics and economy.

The media are full of reports about that in the next world capital opened an office Visit Russia, , or that Visit Russia represented routes to the Olympics at the European exhibition…

But the cultural-political magazine “E Vesti” traditionally came to the original source. Sergei Korneyev, Deputy head of the Federal Tourism Agency, the curator of “Visit Russia” project has kindly agreed to answer questions of our readers.

EV: Routs of the Cup and the Championship were represented at FITUR (Spain, Madrid) exhibition. How were perceived routes?

Sergei Korneev: The represented tourist routes for the World Football Cup 2018 in Russia cause a lively and great interest. There are two factors.

First, today an interest in Russia is generally growing as to a country and as yet insufficiently known, but fascinating, accessible and safe tourist destination. We can see these trends by feedback of the visitors of exhibitions and presentations, by requests of tourism industry professionals, media representatives, bloggers and travelers themselves to Visit Russia offices abroad.

Demand for additional information about Russia in Spain is especially high. Spain has traditionally a high interest in our culture that is fueled by our tourists. The Spaniards want to learn more about the country, the people who actively travel, to visit Russia to get acquainted with its nature, traditions, and culture.

Second is the meaningful football. For the Spaniards this is not just a popular sport but a part of modern culture. Football is attracting representatives of different generations, of different social groups. Football engages not only fans, but also the active, modern people, travelers.

It is important that football in 2017 and in 2018 will be the reason to come to Russia. And then we should attract all guests to our tourist programs. Trip routes across Russia during the World Football Cup 2018 combines two elements. This is a wonderful opportunity to take part in the global sport event and touch the unique and mostly mysterious, but attractive for foreign citizens culture.

Opening of Visit Russia office in China. Photo: Rosturism
Opening of Visit Russia office in China. Photo: Rosturism

EV: What is the idea of each theme: “Silver necklace of Russia”, “Golden ring”, “Great silk way”, “Great tea road”? It seems, it is based on basis tourism programs, or is there a new philosophy?

Sergei Korneev: Branded tourist routes appeared in Russia just last few years ago. This is a new offer, a new way to combine the objects of tourist industry in a single complex, to give an interesting idea to the journey, to promote yourself and to attract tourists.

Each of the major routes brings together several regions of the country, represent unity of their culture, traditions, along with the huge variety of recreational opportunities in Russia.

“Golden Ring” route known from the Soviet era as a journey through the ancient Russian cities of central regions. But today there is a task to modernize it, create new packages and programs around the famous image. It is important that the number of tourists arriving to Moscow were distributed to other cities. For these purposes we create modern tourism infrastructure. Tour operators develop standards of Federal tourist product, and start sales of it. The route is implemented into schedule of tourist events.

“Silver necklace of Russia” route is developed on the same principles. St. Petersburg as a powerful anchor allows you to attract the attention of tourists to other North-West regions. In addition to St. Petersburg, the route includes 10 regions: the Republic of Karelia, Komi Republic, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Murmansk, Novgorod and Pskov oblasts. Their tourism potential is huge. Here are cultural-historical monuments, traditions of small ethnic groups – Karelians, Saami, Komi, Veps, Nenets, Seth, the beautiful natural landscapes. “Silver necklace” is also an umbrella project that will allow developing existing and creating new tourist routes under a single brand.

Routes of “Great silk way”, “Great tea road” emphasize the identity of the Eastern, Southern regions of the country, the Caucasus. Today we brand the tourist potential throughout Russia. Domestically and on a global scene we represent other routes too. For example, “Eastern ring” brings together the regions of the Far East Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Buryatia, Kamchatka, and Khabarovsk Krai. “Russian Arctic” and “Rivers of Russia” trails operating and developing. They are the largest, branded routes, which unite several regions of the country. For the World Football Cup 2018 we have developed more than 120 major routes of different length for different categories of travelers.

EV: It was planned to develop routes in 11 cities. Whether it is done in accordance with the plan, or it was adjusted?

Sergei Korneev: Tourist programs and routs for FIFA World Cup 2018 were developed by the regions on behalf of the Ministry of Culture. They cover all 11 cities – participants of the championship – Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Samara, Saransk, Kazan, Volgograd, Rostov-on-don, Krasnodar, Sochi, Yekaterinburg.

In addition to the major cities, surrounding areas were also involved. The task was to maximize the tourism potential of the regions, to distribute tourist flows, as much as possible to show guests interesting places. It is very important that the designed tours give you the opportunity to visit several cities. For example, during a few days you can visit the games in Sochi, Kazan, St.-Petersburg, and also to take part in a vivid excursion program in these cities.

Along all major routes prepared more than 500 key objects to visit. The necessary tourist infrastructure is ready there – accommodation, catering, transport, entertainment and recreation. In some cases, we upgrade existing facilities; in the others Russian tourist industry with the regional authorities support creates new objects.

Opening of Visit Russia office in London. Photo: Rosturism
Opening of Visit Russia office in London. Photo: Rosturism

EV: Will foreigners get common services at average European prices?

Sergei Korneev: In Russia we have already created a tourist infrastructure that allows providing services in various segments. The level of service depends on Russian business. Today, there are enough of companies operating in the inbound tourism market, which are interested in attracting tourists and creating a comfortable environment for foreign guests. The business is actively engaged in the implementation of standards of service provision and promotion of Russian tourist product in foreign markets.

Regarding to the prices, now Russian tourist products are relatively cheaper than, say, in Europe. This is an important competitive advantage that attracts tourists. We are interested in diversification of tourist flows and to offer tourist products for active foreign citizens in middle age, representatives of the modern economy, interested in travel, fun and relaxation.

EV: What image of Russia will visitors have after tournaments? What do you want to bring them?

Sergei Korneev: Nobody will be able to attract, involve tourists except us, business, regions, all inhabitants of Russia. It is important to make our country interesting for ourselves, something to invest in improvement and to participate in creating an atmosphere of hospitality. Then Russia will be attractive for foreign visitors.

It is important that all tourists, Russians who are traveling across the country and foreigners feel comfortable, safe and met the benevolent attitude of those who meet them.

We need to create an image of Russia – friendly, safe country with a rich culture, interesting traditions and manifold nature, a comfortable place to relax, and where you want to go back.

EV: If Russia is interested in further usage of infrastructure prepared for World Cup 2018?

Sergei Korneev: We expect that running of Confederations Cup 2017 and World Cup 2018 in Russia will allow attracting tourists, but atmosphere of these sports events will attract in subsequent years.

Active tourists discovered Russia, wants to come back again and again and tell about journey to friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Due to the tourist infrastructure is mainly created by business, so tourism companies, hoteliers, restaurateurs will be interested in its further application. Representatives of the tourism industry will try to exert maximum efforts in order to create a favorable impression on foreign visitors to show their best side.

EV: What is the flow of visitors is expected in 2017-2018, and from what countries?

Sergei Korneev: Big events always attract the attention of people and media. The effect of the event, as the comet’s tail acts after events, attracting tourists. For example, it was after celebration of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003. During next year the flow of tourists to the Northern capital rose by 25%. Global events like the World Cup of 2018 are especially important.

Tourist flow to Russia has already begun to grow and could increase by about 10 % a year. In 2017-2018, the rate can be more. Current growth comes from China, in Europe – from Spain and Germany. We are expecting the increased influx of visitors from South-East Asia, and from various European countries. For example, it is possible to increase the flow of visitors from the UK amid the restoration of the old contacts in the tourism sector. We expect growth of trips of middle class who travels with friends, families several times a year.