‘The absolute majority of tourists have QR codes’: Kazan hopes for influx of guests

New Year 2022: Kysh Babay’s new home, the popularity of glamping, railway tour to Volga capitals

The Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism forecasts almost 100% occupancy of hotels by the New Year holidays. Today it is already 75-80%, while the experience of the recent years shows that people make a decision on a trip and, consequently, book hotels on the last days before the holidays. The introduction of QR codes in the city doesn’t frighten guests — tourist traffic hasn’t changed. Realnoe Vremya offers a review of what Kazan citizens and tourists can do on the long festive holidays.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped them

Chairman of the Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov noted that 152,000 tourists visited Tatarstan on the New Year holidays in 2020. Approximately the same amount of guests is expected this year too. According to the Association of Hotels of Kazan and Tatarstan, the hotel occupancy rates from 31 December to 2 January is 65-70%, from 2 to 5 January, the rate is 75-80% and from 6 to 9 January — 40-50%. Ivanov confidently claimed that these numbers would grow, since in the last years many have made a decision on booking a hotel on the last days of the year.

According to him, the widespread introduction of QR codes didn’t influence the decision of spending the holidays in Kazan.

“The check-in at the hotels here in the republic is done without QR codes. Consequently, guests coming here use all the infrastructure in the hotel without showing a QR code. A QR code is required to visit other sites — cafes, restaurants, museums, etc. We have recently seen that the absolute majority of tourists have QR codes, we have got used to them ourselves, this is why we don’t see a very negative trend,” the head of the state committee explained.

99,9% of people will come to Kazan from Russian regions, including Tatarstan settlements. This has to do with both pandemic-related restrictions and the fact that the calendar of holidays around the world doesn’t coincide with the Russian one.

A big festive programme as well as a bright New Year illumination has been prepared for Kazan’s guests and citizens. This year, there are new interesting locations — near the Agriculturists’ Palace with an unusual arch-shaped New Year tree and lighting installation on Kremlyovskaya Street.

Kysh Babay’s new home

A visit to Tatar Santa Claus Kysh Babay’s house is a must. Last year, the residence won a grant from the Russian Agency for Tourism, and the money was spent to renovate the forest magician’s mansion. A new entrance was installed, a cliff was created for Ajdakha Snake, a new festive venue opened — a tent with tea and crepes. Also, there are new selfie points, the interior of Kysh Babay’s house changed. My Village national complex is still a point of attraction for guests. The 7th season of KAZAN folk performance with traditional Tatar dinner will start here on the first day of the New Year. The performances will kick off daily at 18.00 and 20.30.

A series of New Year events are scheduled in the island town of Sviyazhsk. There will be an interactive programme and traditional Christmas carols on 7 January. Museums of the island will be open every day from 1 January without days off.

An intermodal tour (by train and bus) has been organised for travellers without a car on the holidays. The train leaves the central railway station of the city at 10.27 and arrives at the Sviyazhsk Station from where a bus takes them to the island. The trip back is at 16.15. The tour includes a visit to all Sviyazhsk museums.

To travel across Tatarstan

1001 Delights Over the Weekend programme starts on 3 January. It is a two-day trip for 2,700 rubles per person. This sum includes accommodation at a local hotel for two nights, breakfast, two lunches and two excursions. The New Year version of 1001 Delights Over the Weekend includes seven points on the republican map: Great Bolgar, Yelabuga, Chistopol. Rybnaya Sloboda, Kamskoye Ustye, Alexeyevsky and Saba Districts.

A children’s map has been created by the New Year holidays that offers young tourists and their parents to travel on the routes that are offered, get familiar with districts of the Republic of Tatarstan and collect 10 stickers for the map. It is planned to print 50,000 copies. The map will be distributed among primary school students across the republic.

On 5 January, one can go to Kukmor Valenki festival dedicated to local felt boots. It will open at 10.00 and close at 18.00. A concert, different relays — a mass race in a felt boot, ice hockey, a contest of human size dolls — Masters’ City master classes await its guests.

Sergey Ivanov said that a holiday in nature had been more popular recently. Due to this, Tatarstan is developing glampsites more actively. Many of them started to operate all year round and offer their guests heated houses, banyas, bathtubs with hot water, barbecue zones and a number of fun winter activities. Eight glampsites are waiting for guests on the New Year holidays: Urman Camp, Lebedino ECO (Alexeyevsky District), My Ahome (Shuran settlement, Laishevo District), Lesnaya Polyana, Glamptown (Lake Komsomolskoye, Kazan), Wild Dacha (Pestrechi District), Kama Trophy, Minger Tower.

By plane, train, bus

The New Year holiday is a great occasion to travel across Russia. TUI Russia tour operator’s New Year charter programme starts on 31 December. The chain of charter flights from Moscow to Kazan was organised by the tour operator with the support of the Russian Agency for Tourism and the Tatarstan government. It is planned to bring at least 720 people to Kazan on the New Year holidays, and all the flights are almost already full now, Ivanov noted.

Consequently, Tatarstan citizens can go to Moscow taking the same plane. The tours will be on 31 December, 3 January, 6 January. The programme includes excursions to Moscow and free days that can be dedicated to discovering the city on your own.

The tour Bright Weekends in Volga Region is another novelty of the season. From 2 to 6 January, one can go on a railway trip to Volga capitals. The train leaves Kazan, then goes to Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov and Izhevsk. In each city, tourists will see a New Year programme, yummy food, master classes.

Kazan, in turn, will welcome three trains with tourists from Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov and Izhevsk on the New Year holidays who will have a big festive programme.

Ecolines company offers a new opportunity for Kazan citizens. It unites a network of more than 250 cities and 19 countries one can get to by bus. Kazan citizens were organised a route to Saint Petersburg with stops in Nizhny Novgorod and Cheboksary. The buses run three times a week, this is why children can be transported there, including at night. According to a proposal of the Tatarstan State Committee for Tourism, one of the buses has the signature style of Visit Tatarstan. This, the company’s Director Andrey Volkov admits, increased sales by 10%.

Top exhibitions

Those Kazan citizens who aren’t going to leave the city won’t be allowed to get bored. Kazan will host fairs, quests, New Year performances, charity plays and stagings, there are 12 skiing bases, eight tracks and 18 ice rinks. Every cultural institution is preparing a special programme, New Year performances will take place in theatres and different places.

Urban museums are preparing themed exhibitions, programmes and master classes. The Kazan Kremlin Museum-Reserve alone plans more than 30 new programmes. By the way, it will work without days off and open on 1 January at 12.00.

Nikolay Feshin and Nikolay Rerikh’s exhibition in the State Museum of Fine Arts will be a big gift for citizens and guests of the Tatarstan capital. As Director of the museum Rozaliya Nurgaleyeva said, the paintings that have never been exhibited in Kazan, including from private collections, are shown here.

While children can be taken to the country’s second Soyuzcartoonpark after Moscow. It has been working in test mode since 1 September, while the official opening will be on 26 December. According to Director Ksenia Khaziyeva, is very popular not only among children.

Eleonora Rylova