New Year tourist flows
By Vestnik Kavkaza
In last years a tendency has formed that Russians prefer to spend New Year holidays abroad. Nadezhda Yefremova, the head of the legal service of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia, calls Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland the most popular ski tour directions, and Egypt, Finland, and Thailand – the mass directions. Yevgeni Pisarevski, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Tourism, mentioned an explosive development of tourism in Thailand. “Two years ago, the tourist flow was about 270,000 Russian tourists. Last year, there were already 1.2 million, and this year we think this figure will be increased further. One of the reasons was a redistribution of the Egyptian direction after their socio-political events.”
Speaking about the tourist flow to the Caucasus, Pisarevski said that it is a traditional destination: “I think that with the commissioning of the new routes in Sochi this stream will be stable. We have Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. We had difficult situations in one period related to counter-terrorism operation. Now the whole thing is more or less restored. We do not have any statistics, it will appear up to the end of the winter season, and it may last until April. The regions have their own statistics; we'll summarize it later. But the fact is that overall domestic travel, I note the trend, is growing, its growth continues, and many people prefer to spend their winter holidays in our country. There are certain disadvantages of management, but the fact that there are more and more various invitations, I note the dynamics of construction of small hotels: despite the crisis in 2008, they continued to be built. Moreover, small hotels provide different services of individual character, implement their proposals via the internet and are constantly in demand. In St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg there are many hotels, business is developing. That is, small and medium-sized businesses are beginning to understand that this area is effective and interesting and in the long term it is beneficial.
When we say that Russian tourism, perhaps, is like Russian cars, I do not always agree with the fact that it cannot be upgraded or improved. Let us remember our history: in the Soviet Union, hundreds of millions of people travelled; another thing is that the average level was focused on mass social tourism, but all our hotels were packed, it was impossible to get into them. In order to move to a new model of management in the hospitality industry and the wider tourism industry, which will satisfy the most diverse needs of all categories of people, we need some time. Here I want to say that it is not even something evolutionary but revolutionary happening. Unique tourism products, unique accommodation facilities in the country and cruise companies offer their services at the highest level. Our task is to render the prices of these services appropriate.
Speaking of hotel classification, now we are actively discussing the introduction of mandatory classification of hotels, as is done in Sochi, in other cities and subjects of the federation, which will host, for example, large mass sports, social and political events, the football World Cup and large exhibitions. Thus, we will raise the level of service by improving the quality and safety of services.”
“We know that arrangements were made for the creation of "Turpomosch”, an association of tour operators in the area of outbound tourism. This organization has been given the status of All-Russian Association. Now the first fees of the tour operators have arrived in the compensation fund of the association. This month we are waiting for the four government regulations that will govern an emergency response in the event of insolvency of the tourists and the bankruptcy and financial instability of the tour operators. Also, a government decree about keeping the compensation fund in banks and claims on banks where the money can be stored is being prepared, and so on. We know that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formed a structure that is designed to provide operational assistance to Russian citizens who are abroad. A separate department will do this, in accordance with the presidential decree,” Pisarevski stated.