In 2022, a programme aimed at the development of school tourism will be launched in Russia. To finance it, about 500 mn roubles will be sent to the regions, and the total amount will be 3.5 bn roubles until 2024.
Close and comfortable
According to the information of the Cabinet of Ministers on its official website, the main goal is to acquaint schoolchildren with the history of their native land through short trips.
For these purposes, 18 regions will receive financial subsidies in 2022 that will be engaged in the implementation of special tour packages for schoolchildren. The list currently includes the republics of Adygea, Bashkortostan and Chuvashia, as well as the Stavropol, Perm and Krasnoyarsk Territories. The Belgorod, Vologda, Kaliningrad, Kursk, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Samara, Sakhalin, Chelyabinsk and Yaroslavl Regions were included in the list, too. The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District (Okrug) is also in the list.
The Moscow Region will account for the majority of funding this year, 100 mn roubles, the Krasnoyarsk Territory - 37.5 mn roubles, the Republic of Chuvashia - 16 mn roubles.
As Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin stated during his meeting with deputy prime ministers on January 10, 2021, these measures will provide that “more than 100 thousand schoolchildren in grades 5-9 will be able to go on two-day trips (or longer ones) that offer interesting excursion programmes and accommodation in comfortable conditions. At the same time, the schoolchildren’s parents will be able to choose their own tourist programme, including excursions and hotels for their accommodation.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko was entrusted to develop the pilot version of the programme. In the future, it will have to cover a larger number of regions, but the coverage should be the most important indicator - the growth in the number of schoolchildren who will be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided for cultural and educational trips.
According to Dmitry Chernyshenko, the excursions will be selected in such a way that the duration of the trip is at least 24 hours with one overnight stay. He said that the cost of such a tour may be about seven thousand roubles, and five thousand roubles will be compensated by the regions at the expense of the federal budget.
A bit of history
It should be noted that the history of school tourism in Russia dates back several centuries. So, in the “Charter of Public Schools” (1786) and in the “School Charter” (1804), the need for trips in nature was mentioned, and also the visits to manufacturing works, craftsmen’ workshops. And in 1896, the Central Excursion Commission was established in Moscow under the Ministry of Education, and the ministry worked out various regulatory documents to help develop school educational excursions. For example, it was stated that “walks should be used for teaching geography, natural history and for other educational purposes”, and local excursions were introduced into the practice of educational institutions; so, for this purpose, it was allowed as an experiment to use up to seven days during the academic year to make excursions and visit various museums.”
Immediately after the revolution in 1917, local history was included in school curricula as a separate subject, and in 1929-1930, a number of decrees of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) Government contributed to the further development of the field trips to industrial enterprises, and schoolchildren visited factories, large construction sites, they were included in school local history programmes as compulsory polytechnic education.
After World War II, in the late 1960s, such areas of work as recreation camps for youth and children, trips around the Soviet Union, and local history expeditions were specially included into the children’s tourism.
One of the “lowest point” in the development of the children’s tourism came in the 1990s, when the Soviet system of children’s tourism practically collapsed, including due to the declined state support for the institutions and activities of this system. Children’s rallies, school competitions, trips and excursions have practically ceased, and the children’s health centres supported by various industries and departments, clubs, and centres were shut down everywhere.
And the authorities, in fact, have begun to return in a serious way to the topic of the children’s active excursions only now.
The programme is a tool involving a variety of federal structures, that is why it is good, says Oleg Alekseyev, President of the National Professional Association of Event Tourism.
“The problem of the tourism for children and schoolchildren has existed for a long time, there were also the programmes offered by the Ministry of Culture, and various Russian Union of Tour Operators’ initiatives are being implemented, as well as the “Live Lessons” programme. However, as for this new programme, funding in the amount of 500 mn roubles is very, very insufficient, in my opinion,” the expert believes.
The problem is that, according to statistics, we have about 18 million schoolchildren, continues Oleg Alekseyev. “It turns out that the trips will be compensated for only one percent of them! Really, the total funding will amount to 3.5 bn roubles, of course, with the involvement of all the [Russian federal] entities, but how will this be implemented?” the expert asks.
The topic is very correct, he states, since today, the schoolchildren really do not know their country, their region, that is why they have no particular desire to travel around their native land at all. “I understand one thing: the excursion tourism alone is not enough. During the Soviet period, a system of children’s summer recreation was established, it would be just great to do something similar now as part of this programme,” Oleg Alekseyev hopes.
At the same time, according to the expert, attracting local tour operators may be somewhat problematic, although today, there is a demand on the market for any support for tour operators. “Another thing is that today, not many companies are organizing sightseeing tours for schoolchildren, this is a very niche business, moreover, aggravated by a certain corruption problem. And by the way, I know several regions where there are practically no companies engaged in the domestic tourism. And the tourism for schoolchildren is really an urgent, important topic and it is in great demand,” sums up Oleg Alekseyev.