Medvedev to help attract tourists to Tatarstan through Volga Road?

The republic is going to get additional money from the centre via the Russian Agency for Tourism within inter-regional destination whose creation was offered by Tatarstan functionaries

Medvedev to help attract tourists to Tatarstan through Volga Road? Photo: kazanfirst.ru

The concept of the project of the federal targeted programme Development of Domestic and Inbound Tourism in the Russian Federation (2019-2025 years) has been published on the Net. The programme is a continuation of the already existing project aimed to support the Russian tourism business from 2011 to 2018 years but on a larger scale this time. Tatarstan has been in the programme as an attractive region for tourism within Volga Road destination. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

Sergey Ivanov's Volga Road included in federal programme

The concept of the project of the federal targeted programme Development of Domestic and Inbound Tourism in the Russian Federation (2019-2025 years) has been published. According to the new document approved by Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, Tatarstan was included in a prospective tourist destination called Volga Road that is oriented to river cruises with cultural and educational programmes of the regions who participate there. By the way, they total 10. Apart from Tatarstan, it is Samara Oblast, Ulyanovsk, Chuvashia, Mari El, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza and Saratov Oblasts, Bashkortostan, Perm Krai and others.

At the moment, the federal financing in the form of subsidies is expended within the 2011-2018 Federal Targeted Programme. And Tatarstan is outside it. For instance, in 2018, the financing was confirmed only for 15 Russian regions at 3 billion 282 million rubles, and the republic is not among them.

According to the new document approved by Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, Tatarstan was included in the prospective tourist destination called Volga Road. Photo: gazeta.ru

The preliminary financing volume on the new programme for Volga Road in 2019-2025 was 42,9bn rubles, of which 10,7bn come from the federal budget and 2,6bn rubles – the money of regional and local budgets. The major stake is, first of all, in non-government sources. The tourism committee gathered representatives of the Volga Federal Okrug for discussion in Kazan last April. At the end of 2016, at the initiative of the Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism, an agreement on the creation of a new tourist route Great Volga Road was signed at the 5 th international cultural forum in Saint Petersburg. In October, in the editorial of Realnoe Vremya, Sergey Ivanov told the first options of the tourist routes had been created.

Now it is known that Great Volga Road tourist route will open this autumn. ''The first school groups will already go there in autumn. Kazan – Yoshkar-Ola – Cheboksary or Kazan – Ulyanovsk – Samara; Nizhny Novgorod – Cheboksary – Kazan or Kirov – Yoshkar-Ola – Kazan. Such routes have already been created,'' Ivanov told.

The state committee has not commented on its victory yet. Probably it is preparing for a big presentation.

Sergey Ivanov told the first options of the tourist routes had been created. Photo: misanec.ru

Tour operators will get help, but visa issue will be open

About 615,1 billion rubles were calculated for the federal programme where 170,8bn rubles come from the federal budget, 16,4bn from regional budget and 427,9bn rubles from non-government sources. First of all, the federal money will be given to tour operators as subsidies – 96bn rubles – and co-financing of major expenditures – another 58bn rubles. The Russian Agency for Tourism thinks the money given to developing tourism will help to pay loans taken out to develop tourist clusters and equip tourist complexes and purchase cruise ships and tourist buses within the programme. Tour operators providing tourist traffic in priority destinations will also get subsidies including to reduce tour package prices during the low season and for disadvantaged citizens. The financial aid will also affect public and entrepreneurial initiatives – the Russian Agency for Tourism offers to grant scholarships to projects that develop tourist infrastructure facilities.

As Vice-President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Ilya Umansky says, state support of the tourism business is widely spread in other countries. He put an example of Turkey where the state subsidises advertising costs of tour operators to attract tourists to the country and transport costs.

''These subsidies can be either counted – a sum is paid for the tourists who were brought – or part of the costs is compensated. Methods are different, but it is a working approach. And probably it would be good for us to also use it,'' the expert thinks.

The Russian tourism agency forecasts that the total tourist flow will have increased to 93 million people by 2025, while foreigners will account for 71%. In general, 45% of the tourists will be citizens of the ''far and near abroad''. Now foreign tourists total about 1/3 of the Russian tourist traffic. Citizens of Russia travelling within the country will cover another 55%, as functionaries plan.

Now foreign tourists total about 1/3 of the Russian tourist traffic. Citizens of Russia travelling within the country will cover another 55%, as functionaries plan. Photo: Maksim Platonov

However, the experts call the visa regime is one of the main difficulties while attracting foreign tourists. Ilya Umansky from the Association of Tour Operators states that in case of simplification the foreign tourist flow would, undoubtedly, grow. But he says we can't hope for it in the short run.

''It is a big problem. It is really the main problem. There are certainly other problems linked with the country's image and safety perception. But the visa problem is one of the most topical ones, of course. Unfortunately, its solution is not within the competence of tourism authorities. It is a traditional story of parity and reciprocal measures. If a country imposes a visa regime for Russia, Russia will take reciprocal measures. It is up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And we should not hope for some changes here soon,'' Umansky says.

Will the state programme give Tatarstan new tourists?

''A possibility to increase the share of tourism in GDP of the Russian Federation to 4,95%, which will provide a contribution of tourism to GDP at 6,427 trillion rubles, will be an integrated result of the programme by 2025,'' according to the explanatory note to the document. Now the draft concept of the Federal Targeted Programme and financing volumes are under discussion.

A preliminary list of investment projects on creation of tourist clusters is given separately in the programme offered by the Russian Agency for Tourism. Moscow Oblast offers to support the creation of a cluster named Russian Palestina, Gurzuf cluster in Crimea, Trip to the Country of Bumba in Kalmykia. Now, these projects amount to 15. Later they will have several clusters that are created on the government instruction (in the Arctic and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast) and finalists of a specially launched contest where by preliminary estimates 57 Russian regions with over 100 projects on cluster creation will participate. It is unknown whether Tatarstan will compete. The Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism did not manage to give a quick answer because now its chairman Sergey Ivanov is on holiday.

Time will show the significance of the federal aid within the Federal Targeted Programme in Volga Road for Tatarstan. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Tatarstan develops tourism within its programme Development of Tourism and Hospitality in the Republic of Tatarstan in the 2014-2020s. Sergey Ivanov characterised 2016 as a successful year. But the numbers are modest. In early 2017, Ivanov reported that tourist traffic in Tatarstan grew by 7,5% to 2,9 million people in 2016. There were just 250,000 foreign tourists in the republic in 2016 – they are guests from Turkey, China, Germany, DPRK and India.

Considering other state programmes of the republic, 87,8 million rubles were given to tourism in Tatarstan last year – it is 21% more than in 2015. According to Ivanov's statements, tourism's turnover was 19,5m rubles excluding related areas. Time will show the significance of the federal aid within the Federal Targeted Programme in Volga Road for Tatarstan.

Realnoe Vremya online newspaper