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 Post subject: Russia Promotes Itself as Tourist Destination
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 29 Mar 2013 13:56 
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Despite Visa Hassles, Russia Promotes Itself
as Tourist Destination in Berlin


In an attempt to refurbish its image as a tourist destination, Russia went on a charm offensive to court international travelers at the recent Berlin International Tourism Bourse, the world's largest tourism show.

Conceding that visa rules were a big problem, a large contingent of Russian tour operators, hoteliers and local tourism promotion agencies tried to correct the perception in the Western and other markets that Russia is not exactly a hospitable and warm destination for tourists.

Mariola Markiel, the London-based regional sales and marketing manager of Best Western Hotels in Moscow, said she had noticed increased interest in Russia, and in St. Petersburg and Moscow in particular.

"People are increasingly getting tired of seeing the same old destinations in the Mediterranean, and are even willing to undertake short visits of three to four days to Russia, particularly St. Petersburg and Moscow," she said.

She added that Russia was also attracting interest because of the Seventh Rugby Championship to be held in Moscow in June and the Winter Olympics in Sochi next February.

She said a hotel stay in Russia was an "affordable luxury," with prices averaging about 100 euros a day in off-season times.

Russia's huge size also fascinates many travelers, who frequently take the Trans-Siberian Railroad to enjoy the country's "enchanting landscape," she said. But, she admitted, many foreign tourists were deterred by visa requirements and the incumbent fee of 150 euros for one visit. "We can only plead with the authorities to relax the visa system to attract more tourists," she said.

Georgy Gavrillev, head of the National Tourist Co. Yakutia in the Sakha republic, was attending the ITB for the first time. "We are promoting various segments of tourism such as ecotourism, extreme tourism to places with extremely low temperatures, fishing/hunting tours and diamond tours," Gavrillev said.

Sakha gets the bulk of foreign tourism traffic from Germany, China, France and Italy.

"I had a good response from the travel and tourism travel trade at this show," he said. "With tour operators looking for new destinations, Yakutia is a unique region to visit. We have tour operators who offer tour packages costing 1,500 euros for a week's stay, excluding airfare."

Transaero, Russia's largest private airline, hawked its plans to expand and modernize its aircraft fleet. Konstantin Nesterenko, the airline's representative, said that Transaero's fleet of 94 aircraft would get at least three Airbus A380s in three to five years and touted the airline as the sixth-largest airline in Europe and 16th largest in the world.

"We made some good contacts with tour operators from France," he said. "We have been flying to Paris since last year. We also operate charter flights to Goa and Bangkok.

"Transaero is the only airline to operate from all three airports in Moscow," he added.

Alexander Martynov, head of the innovative tourism committee for tourism development of the St. Petersburg government, touted St. Petersburg as an "entirely different city" because of its European character. "This was the city that Peter the Great conceptualized in 1703," he said. "We had 2.7 million international tourists and 2.5 million Russian tourists visit St. Petersburg last year. Tourism accounts for 7 percent of the GDP."

Germans constitute the second-largest foreign group of tourists, after the Finns, to visit St. Petersburg, Martynov said, pointing out that nonstop flights offered by Air Berlin and German Wings had helped bolster tourism from Germany. He also described Brazil, India and China as "important sources of tourism" and said visitors were interested in Russian theater, classical music, the works of Tchaikovsky and Dostoevsky, and Russian cuisine.

But he agreed that there would be much greater traffic to St. Petersburg if the visa system were relaxed.

Russia needs to iron out a long-term strategy to promote tourism, which has received little attention in the past, trade show exhibitors said. There was great interest on the part of the outside world after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but that interest has not been strategically tapped by Russian planners to translate into a sustained traffic.

Raimund Hosch, chief executive of Messe Berlin, which organizes the ITB show in Berlin, is a highly respected tourism expert. Hosch said in an interview that although Russia might not be the typical sun and sand destination, the country had some of the finest skiing resorts, which could attract good traffic for tourism.

"St. Petersburg, Moscow and other places are good destinations and should be publicized and promoted strategically. Russia is a fascinating destination and should be appropriately marketed," Hosch said.

Meanwhile, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) confirmed at the ITB that it had signed a franchise development agreement with the regional hotel chain to develop 15 new Holiday Inn Express hotels in Russia by 2019. The 15 new hotels, the first of the Holiday Inn Express brand in Russia, will add a further 2,250 rooms to the group's present Russian development pipeline of over 1,700 rooms. The first two such hotels will be located at Chelyabinsk and Voronezh.

Describing the hotel agreement as a "breakthrough" for IHG in Russia, Angela Bray, IHG's CEO for Europe, said that this would mark the debut of the Holiday Inn Express in the country, enabling the group to double the size of its system as it stands in Russia today.

Read more: The Moscow Times - 27 March 2013 - By Manik Mehta

 Post subject: Re: Russia Promotes Itself as Tourist Destination
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 30 Mar 2013 06:00 
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The biggest problem for tourists visiting Russia is the requirement of getting a visa and also the registration process with the police. Personally I never had a big problem with the police, except one time in Moscow when I arrive 3 hours before my visa started at midnight and was asked to pay a penalty ( Bribe) of $80 but I refused and stayed on the international side till midnight….. and I went through with no other problems.

I have visited Russia 14 times and I like my Russian friends. I am married to a Russian lady for 5 years but now I have stopped going there because I am tired of the stupid and expensive process getting a visa and registering with the police, for visiting and staying in our OWN house!

My Russian wife has obtained a UK Resident card, as soon as she arrived and after that she does not need a visa to visit any EU country. The Russian Government is playing the superpower game, insists its Nationals to be treated equally by the west but does nothing in return, for us. They have changed the law and now allow 5 year multi entry visas for certain categories of EU nationals, except UK and Ireland, but refuse to do the same for some of us that we have family connections over there. One think is for sure, that Ukrainians are more clever in this respect, abolished the visa requirement for EU and American Nationals and ever since 2005 their tourist arrivals have increased 10 fold.

The Shochi Olympics are coming soon and I bet with their attitude about Visa they will have a disaster in their hands despite spending billions to prepare, if they do not change their requirements for visa but I guess they will do it the very last minute and they will have egg in their faces, like they did couple of years ago with the European Cup final football match in Moscow, between Chelsea and Manchester, when they drop the visa and 50.000 people flew in with charters for 3-4 days and there were not enough hotel beds for them to sleep.

Pity because Russia it’s a beautiful country with many interesting places to visit and Tourism could become one of the largest for foreign revenue industries. BTW lately EasyJet started flights to Moscow from London and Manchester and you can buy a return ticket for less than $200 where Aeroflop, S7, BA and all others are charging over $400.


 Post subject: Re: Russia Promotes Itself as Tourist Destination
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 30 Mar 2013 18:59 
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The greatest single impediment to tourism in Russia is the arcane visa system, with its requirement of defining the dates of stay, and the complexity of entry and exit visas.

I have known many people who started to plan a holiday in St. Petersburg or Moscow but elected for another destination that did not impose a cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive process for obtaining a visa. [bad.gif]

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