State Committee for Tourism intends to save the sector with ecotourism and rehabilitation for people who had COVID-19
The disastrous 2020 for Tatarstan’s tourism industry in terms of income helped find new trends and create tourist routes
Restrictive measures taken because of the reign of the coronavirus infection around the world hit the tourism industry the most — its losses totalled $935 million. Russia was short of 2 trillion it could have got thanks to the tourism business, while Tatarstan’s losses in this area amounted to 11,5bn compared to 2019 when the services considering related sectors (tourists’ costs on accommodation, food, transport, shopping and entertainment) were 28,5bn rubles. Generally speaking, tourist traffic that visited Tatarstan last year almost halved. The disappointing results of the coronavirus year 2020 were discussed at a meeting of the republic’s State Committee for Tourism. However, the agency said on 26 January what it pinned its hopes on in 2021 to somehow change the situation for the better.
Minus 47% of tourists and new areas in tourism
The tourism sector in 2020 turned out to be literally “on the verge of survival”, head of the republic’s State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov claimed. According to his data, a total of 1,9 million tourists visited Tatarstan last year, while in 2019, the number was 3,6 million people. A similar fall in traffic was seen in a kind of tourist flow indicator too, the Kazan Kremlin which is visited by almost every tourist who comes to Tatarstan: if 3,1 million people were there in 2019, only 1,8 million people admired at architectural ensembles and museums in 2020. Mainly it became possible to save the sector’s liveability and staffs thanks to the country’s support as well as novelties in the organisation of Russians’ holidays.
The new reality created new demands for trips among the population, the head of the State Committee noted. Firstly, the interest in domestic tourism and suburban holidays, individual tours increased. Secondly, now people prefer staying in one place during their trips, not visit different cities.
This is why despite a fall in tourist traffic, the duration of tourists’ stay in Tatarstan doubled compared to the last year, which played into the hands of hotels, restaurants and other facilities of the tourism industry — they received an income that’s equal to the revenue of yet COVID-19-free winter holidays in 2020.
Despite the tough year, Sergey Ivanov stressed, new tourist facilities and tourist routes opened on the territory of the republic — hotels in the capital, glamping in Zelenodolsk District, an ecopark in Rybnaya Sloboda District, there is a possibility of going up in a balloon above the island town of Sviyazhsk.
These tendencies helped the State Committee for Tourism to initiate three new areas: trips to neighbouring regions that are part of the Volga area, a weekend tour — an inexpensive product with tourist routes in 11 municipalities of the republic, and the third one is 2+1 offer that 24 hotels, hostels, cafes and restaurants joined. In this offer, if a tourist books two nights in a row is presented a third night in the hotel and free accommodation for a child under 12. Moreover, a 25% discount on the bill in a number of cafes and restaurants and a free tour to Kazan’s historical centre awaited the tourists.
Gastroglamping, retreat and yoga tours for tourists in Tatarstan
However, summing up, Ivanov rarely used final numbers because he probably decided not to focus on negative results. However, it was said a lot about the sector’s prospects in 2021 because they hope coronavirus restrictions would soften.
“We need to recover tourist traffic as soon as possible so that enterprises of the tourism sector can continue their operation and won’t close,” Sergey Ivanov noted.
The State Committee for Tourism is going to make an accent on a new trend — ecotoursm that is planned to develop in two areas. It is Dingez (Editor’s Note: sea from Tatar) in Kamskoye Ustye and Mirror of Tatarstan, which includes routes to Sky-Blue Lakes, Semiozyorsky Forest and the Kazanka River.
Kamskoye Ustye is already called a local sea. This territory of nearly 6,000 hectares will become a concentration of almost all modern trends of tourism in 2022. Not only a network of glamping will be created here, it is also planned to hold festivals of authentic cuisine and ethnic yoga tours and retreat practices, wedding ceremonies and other celebrations in Ustye. Tourist can also enjoy horse riding, rafting, mountain climbing, speleology in Yuryev Caves and much more, a total of 30 areas. By preliminary estimates, this ecozone will allow creating 300 jobs and attract around 300 million rubles to Tatarstan’s budget.
These programmes are actively developing now, investors are invited. These initiatives were voiced in the government too. 18 of 108 projects that the Tatarstan agency submitted in a federal competition designed to develop tourism received 47 million rubles of grants. 20 million of the sum will be invested in Kamskoye Ustye’s project Dingez next year.
Health resorts for people who had COVID-19 as competitive advantage
The agency is going to attract tourists to Tatarstan, both Russians and foreigners, not only thanks to famous sightseeing points. So Kazan is on the list of cities where an e-visa introduced in 52 countries of the world will be in force. The mechanism of issuing electronic visas has already been launched.
One of the trends of modern society is combining a hobby and trips. And the new task of the State Committee is to “provide an impulse to develop niche events that are connected with potential tourists’ hobbies: running, yoga, dance, intellectual games and so on”. In Ivanov’s opinion, Tatarstan has all the necessary modern infrastructure for this.
The republic’s developed complex of health resorts is also going to be involved in performing new tasks — to introduce a special programme for the rehabilitation of those who had coronavirus. Sergey Ivanov expressed his confidence that “this product will be interesting for both Tatarstan residents and tourists from other regions, and it will be our competitive advantage”.
Not only head of the State Committee for Tourism but also the republic’s Vice Premier Leyla Fazleyeva and State Duma deputy from Tatarstan Marat Bariyev set long-term tasks during the meeting. As Marat Bariyev noted, tourism plays one of the key roles in the country’s economy today, while the State Duma has over 20 bills on tourism for consideration. “This has never happened in 9 years,” he noted. The deputy urged the republican State Committee to participate in the creation of a national project in tourism more actively, offer its solutions and programmes to develop the tourism industry.
Leyla Fazleyeva also gave them her recommendations for 2021. She advised the State Committee to add a trend connected with the Mother Tongue Year in Tatarstan and Year of Science in Russia to the list of tourist routes. “Tourism has the biggest chance to develop where there is culture,” she noted. “While for Tatarstan, culture is the major component today. We have a rich legacy, rich culture and rich traditions that, without doubt, are a foundation for any tourist product.”