Sergey Ivanov: ‘Tourist traffic has almost recovered in the Kazan Kremlin, Bolgar and Chistopol’

3,3 million tourists visited Tatarstan in 2021

A number of unique ideas for Russia will become a driver of the development of the tourist traffic in Tatarstan, said Chairman of the republic’s State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov at a meeting of the committee. Volga Bulgaria investment project is one of the ideas. 18 projects received grants at once, 10 of them are related to the development of a network of glampsites while eight aim to create new routes and improve the existing ones. The sector’s good potential is already confirmed by a programme of charter flights from Moscow to Kazan launched in September 2020. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Key figures grew despite the pandemic

Despite the tough situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector in Tatarstan in 2021 anyway grew, said Chairman of the republic’s State Committee for Tourism Sergey Ivanov at the beginning of the meeting of the committee. At the same time, the conditions for tourism development around the globe were tough. According to the UNWTO, the amount of international trips in 2021 remains 72% smaller than before the pandemic in 2019.

The recovery pace is slow and unequal, due to different travel restrictions in the world, the population’s vaccination rates and travellers’ confidence. Although, after the second year of the pandemic, key indicators of the development of tourism in the republic showed steady growth.

“In 2021, we saw a rise in some tourism centres compared to 2019. This means the chart of tourist traffic changed, that’s to say, the share of people who travel as tourists increased. Tourist traffic almost recovered in the Kazan Kremlin, Great Bolgar and Chistopol. A slight growth of guests in 2021 compared to 2019 is seen in Yelabuga, Tetyushi and in the island town of Sviyazhsk.”

A lot of effort and money pumped into promoting the sector

The participation of Tatarstan in the national project Tourism and Hospitality Industry becomes a republican priority. The figures voiced by Sergey Ivanov at the meeting prove this.

14 presentations for Russian and foreign tour operators and tour agents were made. Three tourism road shows in Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were offered. Tatarstan participated in two online exhibitions for professional buyers from Europe, Asia and the Near East. There were organised 13 information tours for tour agents and federal tour operators. 300 people from Russian regions participated in them. Five press tours for journalists and bloggers were hosted to popularise the new flights to Kazan that were launched.

Six travel TV programmes and shows were shot in Tatarstan with the help of the State Committee for popular online platforms and federal TV channels. There were carried out five advertising campaigns of the republic among citizens of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

“The next integral figure can be considered as the main result of the job that was done — more than 10 million saw the ad with the invitation to visit Tatarstan. According to the results of these campaigns, about 264,000 users visited the tourism portal of the Republic of Tatarstan,” Sergey Ivanov noted.

One of the main tasks was to create new tourism products

Bright Weekends in the Volga Region interregional railway tourism project with charter tourism trains was implemented between 11 regions. A total of 1,674 people participated in the project in Tatarstan. The development of the Emperor’s Route historical interregional tourism project, The Great Volga Road interregional project continued.

1001 Delights over the Weekend tourism programme went on. It helps to develop municipalities of the republic. Sergey Ivanov put a project of eco-friendly rural tourism as an example of another innovative idea.

“In 2021, the State Committee prepared the definite edition of Eco-Tat Historical, Cultural, Environmental and Rural Tourism Project in Northeast Tatarstan. The edition includes nine municipalities with tourist routes in each of them.”

Discussing tasks in 2022, Sergey Ivanov said that a number of ideas, which were unique for Russia, would become the driver of the development of the tourism sector in Tatarstan. Volga Bulgaria investment project is one of them. 18 projects received grants at once, 10 of them are related to the development of a network of glampsites while eight aim to create new routes and improve the existing ones. The sector’s good potential is already confirmed by a programme of charter flights from Moscow to Kazan launched in September 2020.

2022 is the year of Russian ethnicities’ cultural heritage

Gennady Shatalov, a member of the Expert Council of the State Duma’s Committee for Tourism and Tourist Infrastructure Development, thinks that today tourism is a powerful instrument to promote territories. Not only the attention of Russian citizens but also that of foreign tourists can be attracted.

“Today in the example of Tatarstan we see the importance of the historical-cultural pattern related to a territory grow. Event tourism gains bigger meaning to develop small settlements where 100-200 people live.”

Even tourism, bright events where every guest can participate become an important instrument to spread cultural values that are characteristic of every territory.

“To be able to speak about the unity of the country it is necessary to give people knowledge about how people in Russian regions live, about their traditions, customs, which is a very important component of event tourism.”

Gennady Shatalov noted that a tourism event is often created considering a territory’s historical content. So the traditional Great Bolgar festival is the historical content for Tatarstan. Of course, precisely this festival attracts many potential guests of Tatarstan as a tourist landmark.

Ecotourism sites can and should appear in every district of the republic

Oksana Sargina, head of the department Directorate for Natural Territory and Ecotourism Development, talked about ecotourism projects. According to her, this activity began in 2020 from scratch. However, a good start of two eco-friendly clusters showed this war was promising. And now a new, systemic approach to ecotourism development in the republic is the case.

“Together with the districts we chose 13 parcels with big tourist potential and chose lands that were suitable to create different tourism infrastructure facilities. Now such parcels already total 400. And this is not only a choice of locations but also a big focus on effective land use. Today we are sure that ecotourism sites can and should appear in every district of our republic.”

The digitalisation of all processes became an important instrument of ecotourism development. Information about all chosen parcels is uploaded to a digital platform allowing evaluating the parcel for restrictions, see existing networks, operating facilities and available services. Changes were made to the republic’s Land Code this year, they allow renting municipal property, which will seriously simplify solving problems for entrepreneurs to join this business.

Necessary to improve health centres and resorts

By the end of the meeting, Vice Prime Minister of Tatarstan Leyla Fazleyeva delivered a speech and noted that during the past period they all had to work amid stringent coronavirus restrictions. The pandemic created big interest of Russian citizens and residents of our republic in the possibility of rehabilitation, treatment in health centres and resorts. Ecotourism issues also developed for this reason.

“Our task in 2022 will be to expand the range of ecotourism. And the task of the Committee for Tourism is to help those people who want and can invest their effort and money in the development of ecotourism.”

Leyla Fazleyeva drew the attention to the necessity of providing more information about existing support measures, digital interaction. Obviously, it is necessary to elaborate a lot of things from a perspective of the organisation of different ways of treatment and holiday.

“In some cases we will need to consider the possibilities of improving infrastructure, and such a task was given by the Tatarstan president. A corresponding instruction was given,” the vice premier said.

Four tasks from State Committee for Tourism

The following tasks are topical for the sector’s successful development, noted Fazleyeva. Firstly, it will be necessary to actively develop the existing one and build new infrastructure for active holidays. Some effort needs to be put to create national signature tourist routes, popularise and raising the awareness of tourist destinations in domestic and foreign markets.

Secondly, in 2022, it is necessary to recover tourist traffic as fast as possible to pre-pandemic figures, including by actively promoting the republic. The main task is to be in the limelight for tourists by constantly offering them something new and interesting.

The third task is to create good and affordable conditions for holidays in the wild in our republic, create comfortable conditions for entrepreneurs and investors to launch commercial projects in Tatarstan’s nature, develop these territories with no harm done to the ecosystem.

Finally, the fourth task is to work on the digitalisation of the tourism sector. 2022 was declared the year of digitalisation of Tatarstan, hence the task of creating digital services becomes one of the most significant this year.

Natalia Eller