'There is a resource in Tatarstan more expensive than black gold'
Landmarks of the Future Forum is being held in Kazan
Landmarks of the Future Forum is being held in Kazan More than 250 specialists of the tourism sector — hoteliers, tour operators, representatives of relevant ministries have gathered to discuss the tasks of developing the industry capable of feeding a small country with a competent organisation without discharging thousands of tonnes of waste into the atmosphere, water and land. Tourism is a clean, highly efficient business and, most importantly, has great potential on the land of Tatarstan.
What we have for today
Russians spend $25 billion more abroad than foreign tourists in Russia, said Valery Fedorov, the director general of the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion. According to him, our compatriots are ten times less likely than the Chinese and 17 times less likely than residents of the United States to travel around their country.
Besides, the speaker drew attention to that 57% of hotels in Russia are not classified at all. Today, Russia ranks 65th out of 99 possible countries in the rating suitable for sustainable tourism.
“Less than 1% of 130,000 food outlets in Russia have regional cuisine that is of value to tourists. Russia ranks the 73rd out of 99 in terms of sustainability of accommodation facilities. 56% of respondents from Russia believe that there are not enough offers for ecological travel," Fedorov added.
New ideas for tourism business
Alexander Sirchenko, the deputy director general of TUI Russia travel company, said that the domestic tourism business has risen from 2-3% to 50% during the pandemic.
“The analysis of the pandemic period shows that the companies that left the market could not integrate into the new conditions. It was necessary to see trends that allow not only to maintain positions in the market, but also to develop the business — and this is an increase in the share of online technologies, digitalisation," he added.
Sirchenko said that in his company they have implemented the services such as booking a tour in one click, have been closely engaged in integration with partners, including hoteliers, carriers, both air and railway workers. Besides, they have already launched the creation of their own media to collect interviews with market experts, form a news block from partners. The company expects that this will allow them to monitor the state of the market, simulate the reaction of the audience of tourist information.
“Most importantly, we realised a very important thing. Today, it is extremely important to take into account what a person will really get after completing the tour, to be more precise, what emotional charge he will have. To do this, it is important to personalise and differentiate tourists by groups, highlighting different target audiences by age, social groups," Sirchenko said.
According to him, their company attracts people who can share information about an interesting business.
“And these are not necessarily legal entities. These may be famous farmers, cheese makers — people who may never have thought of their business as a tourist, and we help them realise a new aspect of their business.”
“It's hard to be the first”
At the session under this name, a number of creators of not quite ordinary tourist projects told about the implementation of their ideas. Anton Zhilin, Mikhail Voskresensky, Natalia Kalyagina announced new terms for the audience: trail tourism, paleotourism, event tourism. These are new and very promising directions for Russia. For example, today the tourist development of Khibiny National Park, the western spurs of the Putorana Plateau, is beginning. For comparison, the national Park in Alaska (USA) receives up to 650,000 tourists a year — the figure that we have yet to reach.
“Now we see a focus on new trends, the transformation of the industry, and it is important to discuss this in a professional environment. In the modern world, it is important not only to respond in time to the issues that the pandemic poses to us. To do this, we need to deploy new platforms, introduce new services, for which it is necessary to always be in the information flow and continuously look for new solutions to stimulate demand," said Yelena Lysenkova, the deputy head of the Federal Agency for Tourism.
She is sure that it is necessary to form a competitive offer, reveal the tourism potential, brands of the regions.
“It is important to say all this at the Kazan venue. We need to work on making travel a separate line in our lives for the full and harmonious development of personality," Lysenkova concluded.
“Since the forum is held once every two years, I think the most important thing is to measure the results we have achieved. And these forums always raise important issues, both current and allowing you to look into the future. In my opinion, now is the time for such an analysis, because Russia, as a sprinter, looks at what is being done in the world and tries to overtake everyone," said Olga Zakharova, the director of Tourism, Ecology and Climate Development Initiatives at the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.
She also drew attention to changes in consumer preferences:
“We also see an emerging demand for small and medium-sized enterprises, because they are the ones who have time to quickly rebuild their businesses. They analyse the markets and create the impressions that affect the target audience. In my opinion, personalisation, digitalisation and the ability to create impressions are key in tourism.”
At the same time, Zakharova stressed that, of course, it is necessary to look at tourism through the prism of the economy:
“In this we have many more issues that need to be resolved. It is necessary to collect competitive practices, catch up in international rankings. And most importantly, the regions should not compete with each other. On the contrary, it is necessary to unite to form a worthy challenge to international companies. I am sure that Russia is capable of taking a leading position in this area. This year will show how systematically we have started working in tourism. And the year 2020 has already shown an increase in the income of businesses working in tourism.”
Tatarstan is waiting for tourists for the New Year
According to Chairperson of the Tatarstan State Committee on Tourism Sergey Ivanov, our main task in holding such forum is to gain access to new technologies and new solutions that are currently working in the tourism sector.
“Of course, we would like our republican tourist community to recharge with energy, information and find new ideas for themselves and for the development of their tourist facilities. It is important for us that the volume of tourist flow and the final capitalisation of tourism sector enterprises grow, as for us this is an important direction of development of the republic's economy. We understand that this is a trend and a big national project, and it is very important that all participants of the tourist market, as they say, row in one direction. So that we all compete for an international tourist.”
Ivanov clarified that it is not about current problems that will be solved, but about trends.
“If we talk about the near future, then for the New Year holidays we expect the same flow of tourists as last year. Hotels are preparing New Year's programmes, according to statistics we see that about 90% of rooms have already been booked, and I think all tourist facilities will be used to the maximum. We set the goal to grow exponentially in the tourist flow. We understand that there are certain limitations, but goals should not frighten. For us, the main indicators today are figures on the tourist flow, figures on the satisfaction of tourists with the services they receive on our territory, and the number of repeated trips. And I must say, there is a very good dynamics in these parameters.”