How Tatarstan to get lost tourists during pandemic back

Issues of eco, rural and industrial tourism in the republic have been discussed in the State Council

How Tatarstan to get lost tourists during pandemic back
Photo: Ilya Repin

In 2020, Tatarstan lost 47% of tourist traffic in the republic, which is nearly a half compared to 2019. Only 40% was lost in monetary terms: apparently, those 1,9 million tourists who anyway dared to come had fun firing on all cylinders. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report how the republic is planning to restore and double tourist traffic, what impedes tourism, what money new projects in 2021 will develop with.

Tatarstan on TV, in buses and tour packages

Chairman of the Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov talked about the implementation of the Tourism Development Strategy in the Republic of Tatarstan. For instance, now the State Committee for Tourism Sergey focuses not only on recognised areas but also towns of the republic. It teaches specialists from municipal districts so that local municipal tourist routes could offer a decent service: “It is necessary to create a tourist product that would be in high demand from Tatarstan residents themselves,” Ivanov explained.

Interregional cooperation develops to increase the recognition of the tourism brand. Tatarstan is included in the biggest federal operators’ offers, for instance, it will be a part of The Great Volga Route project by TUI Russia. While this tour agency has a total of 13 routes linked with our republic.

Tatarstan commercials were launched on billboards and on radio across Russia. In Moscow, an offer to visit Tatarstan was placed directly in urban buses. TV programmes about our republic were shot too. In a word, everything is done so that we won’t be forgotten in Russia.

“It is necessary to create a tourist product that would be in high demand from Tatarstan residents themselves,” Ivanov says. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Grant is key

In 2020, the Federal Agency for Tourism selected grant applications. And here Tatarstan did its best. As many as 108 applications were submitted in the contest from our republic, why not? However, only 18 won (but this took us to the top 5 regional winners). And they received 47 million rubles in total.

10 projects that won develop a network of glamping sites on the territory of Tatarstan, another 8 aim to develop the tourism industry (new routes, purchase of buses and radio guides, creation of audio guides, etc.). The money is to be spent in 2021.

Ecotourism: most importantly, don’t spoil the site

Head of the Directorate for Nature Reserve Development Oksana Sargina talked about the organisation of holidays in nature reserves:

“The republic has three key tasks: to make nature reserves of the region accessible for the locals in a way that natural wonders don’t suffer, create comfortable and accessible holiday sites in nature reserves, create tourist routes and promote information effectively.”

Clearly, it is hard to develop ecotourism because at the same time to conserve the ecosystem and bring tourists there, preferably, more. It is also necessary to solve problems of obtaining land parcels, arrange the road system to get to such parcels easily...

It is hard to develop ecotourism because at the same time to conserve the ecosystem and bring tourists there, preferably, more. Photo: Ilya Repin

Vice Director of the Institute of Environmental Issues and Use of Natural Resources of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences Dmitry Ivanov evaluated the natural potential for developing ecotourism in the republic. He said that trained people — guides who have a degree in ecology — are needed to host events there.

Rural and industrial tourism: from farm to KAMAZ

Vice Minister of Agriculture Rishat Khabipov talked about rural tourism. However, there is nothing to talk about now. Little has changed since a rural tourism development forum in 2016. And only the concept of rural tourism was determined and explained who a rural tourist was.

But since we are an agrarian republic, we don’t give up our goals. So grants will be offered for rural tourism. So we can hope that one day we will visit Tatarstan farmers to listen to a cock cry out in the mornings and drink fresh milk and learn a lot of valuable information about agriculture.

Vice Chairman of the State Council’s committee Takhir Khadeyev informed the audience about developing a pilot project on ecotourism in the countryside in Tatarstan. Sergey Ivanov said: “It is EcoTat, a historical, cultural, environmental and rural tourism project. It is so big that covers 9 municipal districts in the northeast of the republic — Arsk, Atna, Baltasi, Vysokaya Gora, Kukmor, Mamadysh, Pestrechi, Saba and Tyulachi. However, more details weren’t provided. So we’ll see.

The project on historical, cultural, environmental and rural tourism covers 9 municipal districts in the northeast of the republic. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

Industrial tourism was discussed too: it is when visitors go to an enterprise and poke their noses into manufacturing processes as much as they are allowed. Tatarstan has such examples: KAMAZ has been taking not only partners and investors but also ordinary mortal tourists for long and successfully. The first excursion of this kind took place on 19 April 2016. Residents of the republic, guests from other Russian regions visit the company’s plants. Tourists from Germany, Turkey, Azerbaijan and other countries have been there too. A trip on the conveyor belt where one can see how a lorry is made of separate components is especially popular.

A smaller but cosier route has already been operating in Kukmor District for long. It is named Skilful Hands of Kukmor Area and includes a trip to Kukmor Metal Cookware Plant, Kukmor Felt Factory, familiarisation with a garment factory and a municipal ethnographic museum.

Tough and crucial tasks

Sergey Ivanov named the beginning of work on Tourism and Hospitality Industry national project as the main task of his committee. The national project is assumed to be adopted this year, and its target is to double the number of guests in hotels of the republic by 2030. This means that the growth must be 11% every year. Kazan alone can’t handle it, it will have to attract other municipalities too.

Ivanov says that even despite the tough year, new infrastructural facilities opened, tourist routes were launched in Tatarstan. A new hotel opened in Kazan, glamping did in Zelenodolsk District, an ecopark — in Rybnaya Sloboda. Tourists can go up in a balloon above the island town of Sviyazhsk or go to one of the 11 districts of the republic in 1001 Delights in Weekend programme.

The route has already been operating in Kukmor District for long. It is named Skilful Hands of Kukmor Area and includes a trip to Kukmor Metal Cookware Plant, Kukmor Felt Factory, familiarisation with a garment factory and a municipal ethnographic museum. Photo: Ilya Repin

Most importantly, it is high time for Tatarstan to demonstrate itself as not only an excursion tourism centre: we have everything to become an event-related tourism centre. There is enough infrastructure. Sergey Ivanov dreamily enumerated the hobbies of tourists who could be a foundation of potential events in his report: running, yoga, dance, intellectual games...

But if we don’t look at the remote future and talk about only 2021, we should restore tourist traffic as soon as possible, take it to the previous levels back and save enterprises of the sector.

By Lyudmila Gubayeva, Tatiana Novikova
Tatarstan