Pandemic halvs tourist flow to Kazan, but St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg hit harder

Pandemic halvs tourist flow to Kazan, but St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg hit harder
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Traditionally “high” months have been excluded from the statistics

More than two months of lockdown last year naturally led to a sharp reduction in the tourist flow, Director of the City Committee for Tourism Development Daria Sannikova stated at the meeting in the City Hall of Kazan on 25 January. According to her, during this difficult period, the enterprises of hospitality sector, which resources liberated, actively participated in measures to combat the coronavirus. Six hotels provided rooms to doctors working in the “red zones”, 11 catering establishments, 4 food companies provided food to doctors. At this time, the committee consulted entrepreneurs on obtaining assistance.

The lifting of restrictions on June 5 allowed the start of the tourist season in the city with all the necessary precautions. As a result, in 2020, the tourist flow to Kazan decreased by 52% — to 1,7 million people.

“Such decline was predictable, since the months of isolation, the end of March-May with traditionally high indicators, were eliminated from the statistics," Sannikova stressed.

For comparison, the speaker gave examples of other cities. For example, in Moscow, the decrease in the tourist flow was 46%, in St. Petersburg — 70%, in Yekaterinburg — 71%.

About 117,000 foreigners visited Kazan last year, which is by 49% lower than in the previous year (229,000). As a rule, tourists came from China, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine and Belarus, and Russian travellers were mainly from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Chelyabinsk, the cities of the Volga Federal District, Altai Krai, Krasnodar Krai, Crimea, Yakutia, the speaker noted.

The main tourist attraction of the city, the Kazan Kremlin, was visited by 1,8 million people in 2020 — by 42% less than in 2019.

At restaurants, traffic decreased by 30%

It is interesting that despite the reduction in the tourist flow and the absence of any work for months, the number of people employed in the tourism sector even increased — by 7%.
“This was achieved thanks to federal and regional measures to support the tourism industry as the most affected by the pandemic. Preferential loans and gratuitous state assistance in the amount of the minimum wage (12,13 thousand rubles) allowed enterprises to retain employees. Besides, many employers have switched to remote work, thereby optimising costs in favour of retaining employees," explained Daria Sannikova.

  • The average occupancy of key hotels was 37%, compared to 60% a year earlier. Occupancies were critically low 4-8% during the period of self-isolation, the director of the department noted.
  • Kazan missed eight hotels — this is 4% of the total number of objects. However, in December, on the contrary, new hotel Neo Kazan Palace by Tasigo 4* with 96 rooms opened. Today, there are a total of 8,182 rooms in 245 hotels in the city.
  • In the restaurant business, according to the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Kazan and Tatarstan, there is being a decline in traffic by 30% compared to last year. According to the 2gis.ru portal, in 2020, there were 2,045 public catering establishments in Kazan, and in 2019 — 2,241. At the same time, 11 new restaurants and cafes were added to the gastronomic map of the city.
In the restaurant business, there is a decline in traffic by 30% compared to last year. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Passenger flow of river navigation decreased by half

The situation in the air transport segment has also changed significantly. International passenger flights were closed for almost five months, the head of the committee reminded. The first international flight from Kazan to Antalya after the lifting of restrictions on international passenger flights was performed on August 21.

  • At the end of the year, passenger traffic amounted to almost 2,2 million, which is by 38% less than a year earlier. In total, today planes depart from Kazan International Airport to more than 42 destinations, including foreign ones, but this is by 30% less than in the year before last.
  • River navigation was also reduced last season — from June to October. According to the Tatflot shipping company, in 2020, about 55,000 people travelled along the river — by 48% less than in 2019.
In 2020, about 55,000 people travelled along the river — by 48% less than in 2019. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

Railway traffic has been affected not so much, Sannikova highlighted. From April to October, due to a decrease in demand, the frequency of train journeys to Kazan from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinburg and other cities was reduced. The total number of destinations, 31 destinations within the country, remained at the level of last year.

Kremlin lost more than 17,000 tourists in the New Year

During the winter holidays, Kazan was visited by 140,000 tourists, which is by 30,000 less than last year. Tourists from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novorossiysk, Rostov-on-Don, Lipetsk, Yekaterinburg, Kirov, and Samara came to the capital of Tatarstan to celebrate the New Year, where restrictions were tightened during the holidays, Daria Sannikova noted. Restaurants were allowed to extend the work on New Year's Eve until 3 am, so tourists from other cities came for their New Year's programmes, which in previous years were less, according to the comments of the restaurateurs themselves.

  • According to their own data, the average occupancy of restaurants and cafes in the period from December 31 to January 10, 2021 was 77,4%.
  • Hotel occupancy during the New Year holidays was at the level of 77,1%, and on peak dates, from 3 to 5 January, it reached 96%. This is slightly lower than last year's figures. For example, in 2019, the average occupancy of hosting facilities was 79,6%, and on peak dates, from January 3 to 5, — 97%, the director of the committee noted.
  • The Kazan Kremlin was visited by 160,500 people during the New Year holidays — by 17,500 people less than last year.
Kazan Kremlin was visited by 160,500 people during the New Year holidays — by 17,500 people less than last year. Photo: Ilya Repin

Kazan refused from several festivals

Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kazan refused to hold annual events: night bike festival, Delicious Kazan, the festival of ethnic costume, KyshDaKar-Fest, and had to switch to the development of domestic tourism, Daria Sannikova said. However, Tatarstan was included in the list of regions of the federal target programme for stimulating domestic tourism. From August 21 to 28, tourists could receive compensation for purchased tours up to 20% — from 5 thousand to 15 thousand rubles, the speaker reminded. In October, the campaign was extended until December 5, with the condition for tourists to return until January 10, 2021. Twenty-seven hotels and nine tour operators of Kazan took part in the programme, the speaker informed.

The 2+1 programme for an additional free night in a hotel and a 25% discount in cafes and restaurants, which was valid from June to December 28, was attended by 23 hotels and 14 catering establishments, and 1,5 thousand people took advantage of it.

Important events in terms of promoting Kazan were the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, where Kazan was represented by a separate stand, as well as the forum of related cities and municipalities of the BRICS countries, which was held in Kazan in full-time and in absentia in October, the head of the committee noted. Before the pandemic, in January, the city managed to take part in the 40th Fitur 2020 exhibition in Madrid, and later, in July, in the online exhibition Microfactories of Kazan, which was held by the Kazan Fair.

One of the important events in terms of promoting Kazan was the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Marat Muginov/kzn.ru

Kazan preparing for an influx of guests due to Covid-19 pandemic

One hundred and eleven applications were received for the contest of New Year's design of objects 'New Year's Kazan'. The popular vote will continue on the portal kzn.ru until February 5, and on February 28, the jury select the best, who will be awarded with diplomas of the mayor and valuable prizes, Sannikova said. She listed the events that await the capital of Tatarstan in 2021.

  • This year, the use of the tourist brand of Kazan on public transport is free of charge.
  • On January 29, a series of lectures on the history and architecture of the Kazan Kremlin start in cooperation with the Russian House Foundation in Barcelona.
  • In the capital of Tatarstan, it is planned to revive traditional event events, open new tourist routes, and increase the online presence.
  • Media personalities in the framework of the project in social networks “Show Your Kazan” will post videos and photos about the capital of Tatarstan on their accounts.
  • Another project “Discover Your Kazan” is an online broadcast with excursions through the streets and tourist sites of the city. It is expected that the audience of the project will be more than 59 thousand people.

“Next year, we have a great potential for increasing domestic tourism, since there is no doubt that all major destinations will be closed, so we need to be prepared for an influx of guests," Ilsur Metshin, the mayor of Kazan, said at the end of Sannikova's speech.

By Yekaterina Ablaeva
Analytics Tatarstan