A time to travel
Gennady Shatalov
The Head of the Supervisory Board of the National Association of Event Tourism Specialists, an expert

A time to travel

Nizhny Novgorod hosted the forum “It’s Time To Travel Around Russia”. Eco Tourism EXPERT asked Gennady Shatalov, a member of the Expert Council of the State Duma Committee on Tourism and Development of Tourism Infrastructure, why the tourism market needed such an event and what were the main prospects for domestic tourism today.

Is it really a time to travel around Russia? Are tourists and Russia ready for this?

This question is not relevant. In many cities, there are just not enough hotel rooms today because people are already travelling. So, the answer is clear, it is the right time to travel around Russia.

- Does this apply to all destinations, even those that are not popular and ‘massive’ and are quite expensive at the same time?  

What are these destinations, for example?

For example, the tours to Kamchatka?

This destination is really overcrowded, there are no vacant rooms at the hotels in Kamchatka at all.

In this situation, do representatives of the tourism market need to do something to attract tourists, or is the tourism market really saturated already?

Of course, all this is not enough and the main problem is the lack of accommodation facilities, and the problem is great. For example, Vyborg is a popular tourism destination. This small town is ready to have more tourists than they do now, but they simply have no enough hotels to accommodate them.

As for larger cities, such as Nizhny Novgorod, all the hotels are booked in the summer and on weekends, and no vacant hotel rooms are available. And as for Nizhny Novgorod, its proximity to Moscow does not play any role at all. If you try to book any hotel room on the shore of Lake Baikal, you just won’t be able to find vacant hotel rooms!

Should there be a state support to resolve this issue?

There is a state support provided. In accordance with the national tourism project, a lot of agreements have already been concluded, project master plans are under development, and large tourist complexes are put into operation in many regions.

There are basic things. For example, an entrepreneur is ready to invest in the tourism infrastructure of a region. But to do this, a land plot should be allocated. Why does Tourism.RF get involved in this? Because there are certain costs associated with solving the issues with the infrastructure facilities, connecting to pipelines and networks, which, for example, an entrepreneur is often unable to pay alone without a state support. By the way, public-private partnership helps a lot in this type of projects.

The forum “It’s Time To Travel Around Russia” held in Nizhny Novgorod is not the first event of this kind. What is your impression of this event in comparison with the forums held in previous years?

In my opinion, its key difference is, firstly, that good topics for discussions and good organization eventually resulted in arriving over 300 people from 46 regions of Russia during the peak of the tourist season. Secondly, we did not talk about problems this time.

And what was discussed at the forum?

The representatives of the tourism industry presented their successful cases that were supposed to become inter-regional ones, they offered a lot of projects to expand the tourist routes’ geography and discussed offering some new tourism events. We also talked about unification and consolidation.

But there are still problems, aren’t there?

What’s the use of talking about problems? It’s better to talk about the ways to solve these problems. For example, we did not discuss the railway transport problems in the tourism context. We talked about launching a tourist train from the Volga Federal District that would connect several cities, for example, with Vitebsk in Belarus.

Maybe, you wanted to focus on any issues that turned out to be quite topical at the forum and critical for the tourism industry?

We have already begun our work on ensuring that next year, there will be a calendar of tourism events, at least, an inter-regional one covering the Volga Federal District. And, of course, the work should be carried out on a larger scale.

The fact is that there is a National Calendar of Events but it has another task because it contains the best events, the major ones. And we should set a good example and show - on the basis of the Volga Federal District - that we offer a calendar of events to tour operators and they, in their turn, should launch trains, work out tourist routes and bus tours so that tourists would have a chance to visit and enjoy these events.

It’s better to start small, you just need to show how it can be implemented, and later on, it can be used as a model.