The Russian government approved a plan for the development of tourism in the country until 2035 that comprises over 65 action items. EcoTourism Expert figured out what activities are included in the plan, how much money is needed for their implementation, and what the tourism industry in Russia can and should become in 13 years.
The document “includes more than 65 action items and contains a whole range of measures of state support for the industry. Financing the regions for the development of tourism clusters are among them, as well as soft lending for the investment projects to build tourism infrastructure, allocating grants to businesses for the construction and reconstruction of hotels, and supporting the development of rural and ecological tourism,” the Cabinet of Ministers says on its website.
It is assumed that in the next decade, the construction of the increasingly popular ‘modular’ hotels and campsites will be financed. Projects for the manufacture of tourism equipment can get subsidies, and leasing within the framework of these projects can be supported by state. In addition, it is planned to expand the financing mechanism for enterprises in the folk arts and crafts’ sector.
For the development of cultural and educational tourism, according to the Cabinet of Ministers’ website, “it is planned to repair cultural institutions, hold new exhibitions, create an attractive tourist environment in the centres of historical cities. In addition, multimedia guides should be introduced in museums to help get acquainted with the exhibits using augmented reality technology.”
In general, special attention will be paid to the multimedia and digital development of the travel industry. For example, it is expected to launch a single unified system for booking tours and create new services on the National Tourist Portal.
The implementation of some of the activities will begin as early as December 2022, however, the most part of them are at the stage of preparation.
Thus, in December, federal tourism interregional schemes for spatial planning at the level of Russia as a whole and for the tourism macroregions should be developed. Based on the results of the meeting of the relevant subcommittee, a support was provided for the investment projects aimed at creating tourism infrastructure, constructing (reconstructing) tourism infrastructure facilities by subsidizing part of the interest rate on loans.
In addition, a government decree should be worked out to reflect a set of measures aimed at increasing the travelling availability and promotion of tourism for schoolchildren, to ensure the operation and development of tourism services offered on the National Tourist Portal. From December 2022, the work will start to provide advanced training the employees of the hospitality and tourism sectors, as well as advanced training of the public officer dealing with these sectors.
It is worth mentioning that the action plan was prepared as part of the implementation of the Tourism Development Strategy until 2035 approved in the fall of 2019. The document adopted at that time assumed the support for domestic and inbound tourism and predicted an increase in industry turnover from 3.2 to 16.3 trillion roubles, as well as a two-fold increase in the number of domestic trips per a person, an increase in the export of services and a higher investment flow.
As for financing the action plan, the order of the Cabinet of Ministers states in a separate paragraph that “financial support for the plan’s actions is provided by federal executive bodies within the budgetary allocations specified in the federal budget for the corresponding financial year.”
However, the amount of funds to be spent on the implementation of the strategy and a set of measures is still unclear. There are no official statements on this topic, and the latest information with at least approximate figures was published in the media with reference to the Telegram channels back in March 2021. It was assumed at that time that about 1.8 trillion roubles of private investments would be directed to the development of tourism by 2030, and the state financing of the national “Tourism” project would amount to 450 bn roubles. The Rostourism didn’t confirm the figures.
Of course, the plan has been worked out, it is comprehensive and takes into account a lot of aspects, according to Elena Pereskokova, an expert on tourism-related issues at the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. However, one very important section is missing, she thinks.
“There are absolutely no measures to increase the accessibility of tourist facilities and services for disabled people and low-mobility groups of population. This poses a big problem today, and together with the expert community, we prepared proposals for inclusion in the draft of a new law on tourism currently being developed and, of course, very close attention should be paid to this issue,” the expert believes.
As Elena Pereskokova emphasizes, there are a lot of people who need adaptive facilities and special services. “In Russia, disabled people make about 12 percent of the population, and there are even more low-mobility people. Recently, we have conducted a survey showing that about 70 percent of people pay attention to accessibility while choosing various tourist products for themselves and their families,” she cited the statistics.
According to the Constitution, disabled people should have equal opportunities, the expert concludes, which both regional authorities and owners of tourist facilities are obliged to provide; nevertheless, this issue has not been taken into account in our country at all.
There is also a lack of clarity regarding the sum of money needed to implement all these activities. For example, the “Tourism.RF” corporation has already been provided with budget investments in the amount of 33.8 bn roubles for 2022, while by 2024, an additional 25.5 bn roubles will be allocated to the authorized capital of tourism investment projects in the regions. In addition, another 22.3 bn roubles will be allocated in the next two years to subsidize the interest rate on loans.
At the same time, the plans require much more money. Thus, “Tourism.RF” has formed the first pool of 53 projects that will allow creating 20,000 hotel rooms throughout the country by 2030. The total amount of financing these projects is 387 bn roubles, of which the corporation’s funds make 36.5 bn roubles.