Bashkiria aims at 5 million tourists

Such a number of guests in the republic is planned to be achieved by 2035

Chairwoman of the regional State Committee for Tourism Elmira Tukanova made the results of the creation of a development strategy of the sector through 2035 public. During this time, it is planned to improve the quality of tourism services, their competitiveness in the Russian and international markets and increase tourist traffic to 5 million people a year. Specialists of the tourism sector shared opinions on if such indicators can be achieved within this term with Realnoe Vremya.

Tourist clusters and three development stages

The chairwoman of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Bashkortostan thinks that the development of the sector should be focused on separate clusters, which are the points of attraction of tourists to Bashkortostan.

“According to the strategy, three big clusters that can significantly increase tourist traffic in Bashkiria are singled out: The Legend of the Urals, Ufa City and medical tourism. Ethnic tourism, ecotourism, the development of cruise holidays and water recreation as well as automobile, medical, children and social tourism are chosen as key areas. The key activities are to make master plans for target audiences, promote brands and tourist products in all channels and million cities, manage the fulfilment of the strategy on a Big Data basis,” Elmira Tukanova noted.

The chairwoman of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic assumes that as a result of the fulfilment of the strategy, the volume of the tourism industry will rise to 25 billion rubles a year, while the number of people employed in the sphere and the amount of taxes received will double. It is planned to achieve such indicators in three stages, the first of which is due to end in 2024. During this time, it is scheduled to create competitive products, create a united registry of routes and create a chain of visitor centres. At the second stage, through 2030, the republic will deal with the organisation of additional tourist capacities to accommodate tourists and the development of a foreign network of partners to promote brands and products abroad. At the third stage, they will provide hosting large-scale events and entering key markets with tourist products and folk arts and crafts.

It is necessary to develop service

Realnoe Vremya learnt what is necessary first of all to develop tourism in Bashkortostan from experts of the sector. Traveller and geographer Sergey Pishchulov has just recently been to Bashkortostan. In his opinion, citizens of other Russian regions don’t associate Bashkortostan with the Urals, while they, as the traveller thinks, are one of the key attractions of the republic:

“I consider the tourism potential of Bashkortostan high enough. The republic has picturesque eastern spurs of the Urals, and the focus should be made on them when developing tourism. Anyway, tourists’ interest in natural landmarks is much higher than in ethnic and cultural ones. At the same time, it is necessary to develop service and raise its level. Yes, it is not bad in some places (Abzakovo, Lake Bannoye), but these are isolated cases. Road infrastructure is poor. In general I think it is possible to make the road from Ufa to Magnitogorsk an analogue of European national tourist roads. It is very beautiful, while the distance is optimal. It would be great to fill it with tourist info plates, sites with beautiful views, cafes and stores with Ural souvenirs.”

Traveller, exponent of tourism in the Urals Oleg Chegodayev also talks about the importance of developing service.

“Southern Ural is the major tourist landmark of the republic. The safest and most comfortable mountains in the country, in fact, are the only thing that can be offered to a mass tourist from European Russia. It is necessary to stop making them ugly, cutting them down and using timber lorries. It is necessary to create comfortable infrastructure in the mountains, and the rest will improve after that: hotels, cafes and so on.”

As for the tourist traffic bar of 5 million people a year, Oleg Chegodayev thinks it is too high to achieve within such a short term but he is sure that tourist traffic can and needs to increase.

Blogger Rais Gabitov is convinced that tourism development is not only raising the number of visitors to the region but also possibilities of earning from this.

“It is necessary to increase the average bill, not the number of tourists whose number is already enough, so that they leave money in hotels, restaurants, buy local products. A person goes on holiday but has no place to spend money. Domestic, republican tourism is also big potential for tourism. When a Ufa citizen goes to Sterlitamak, while a resident of Ishimbay goes to Beloretsk. My favourite Beloretsk has no decent hotel or restaurant. The conditions even in small Abzakovo or Lake Bannoye are better.”

It is necessary to get down to business, not name numbers

Director of Wind Rose tour agency Nikolay Kochnev believes that tourism in Bashkortostan isn’t in its heyday. The entrepreneur thinks that we shouldn’t be even talking about the supposed tourist traffic in 15 years.

“It is necessary to get down to business, not name numbers. I don’t know what calculation method is used and what the prerequisites are. Seemingly, it was necessary to simply name a beautiful number, this is what I think about it.”

At the same time, Nikolay Kochnev notices the influence of general economic factors on the tourism sphere, due to which many travellers have to save money, while tour operators lose profit.

“I have been dealing with it for 25 years already, I am bankrupt, I closed a store, I cannot repay these loans. Here is tourism development. While I bet my life on this business. Everything is very complicated. People used to travel on Saturday and Sunday, spent the weekend in nature, now they travel for a day. Now people go to Iremel for a day. They simply have no money to arrive and have enough sleep at the campsite and climb the mountain.”

However, Nikolay Kochnev thinks that there are positive tendencies too. So due to the pandemic and the closure of borders, domestic tourism had a new lease of life:

“I know that tourism started to develop now. COVID-19 lent a helping hand, and there appeared attention to domestic tourism. There has been progress in the last six months, in the last year. Grants are granted now, perhaps grants can help somehow. Campsites should be built, moreover, with public partnership.”

Economic effect from Ufa Marathon is 15 million rubles

Bashkortostan has big potential not only in nature but also in event tourism. Organiser of the Ufa International Marathon Vladislav Litvinchuk is sure of this. From his point of view, the big event can attract guests not only once. If a guest liked everything, he can come back to the city more than one time.

“Our last marathon didn’t have a record-high number of competitors, but in the amount of guests, we repeated the numbers of 2019. More than 1,000 people weren’t from Ufa. Moreover, 500 people aren’t from Bashkiria. So every person among these 500 people probably spent at least 10,000 rubles. You know, this is how much it costs to spend two nights in a million city. All this can be counted. The approximate economic effect is 15 million rubles. Moreover, the direct expenses cost the country zero rubles.”

Vladislav Litvinchuk believes if there are more such events and if they become bigger, the number of tourists in Bashkortostan will certainly rise. The number of guests of event tourism can be raised by inviting, increasing the prize money and the route crossing urban sightseeing points.

“Guests can be attracted by an interesting route, which becomes more diverse, by inviting famous athletes, big prize money, attracting the federal press and federal partners. All this will influence the number of people who will come.”

According to Bashkortostan’s State Committee for Tourism, 1,9 million tourists visited the republic in the first six months of 2021. In 2020, 2 million tourists visited the region mainly due to coronavirus restrictions. In pre-COVID-19 2019, tourist traffic was 2,7 million people. A year earlier, it had been 2,5 million people.

Emil Ziyangirov