Experts see the opening of Beijing Airport as signs of China's return to the international travel market. "Vestnik ATOR" found out when tourists from China will go to Russia, and how the tourist flow will be restored.
Beijing Airport announced a gradual restoration of its operations. According to the media, at first the capital of China will receive only 500 air passengers per day. The list of countries to which flights from Beijing will be operated is also limited.
Despite all the restrictions, experts consider the "defrosting" of the Beijing airport to be a very positive factor. Recall that during the pandemic six months, the Chinese capital was actually in the status of a besieged fortress, even relative to other cities in China. All international flights from Beijing have been moved to other cities in the country.
“Unlike Beijing, other major cities in China have operated and are currently operating international flights around the world. But all trips are closely monitored. These flights covered the need for people to be transported abroad for some very weighty reason, ”explains Ivan Vvedensky, chairman of the board of the World Without Borders Association.
The opening of Beijing has not yet lifted the two-week quarantine rule for all foreigners. Also, foreigners wishing to visit China need to individually apply to the Chinese consulate in their country and obtain a visa. All previously issued visas have been canceled.
“Beijing has not had a single case of COVID-19 infection in the last 2-3 weeks. Everything works here and everything is open. Therefore, for China, all foreigners and flights from abroad are perceived as a potential threat of the importation of new cases of COVID-19. We cannot yet say how long the two-week quarantine regime will last. It is possible that until some very high-speed tests are introduced, ”says Ivan Vvedensky.
China is not yet talking about the restoration of tourism - neither inbound nor outbound. But experts see a positive trend in the "opening" of Beijing.
“In general, China is now dominated by two trends. On the one hand, there is a desire to maintain the achieved results in the fight against coronavirus. On the other hand, there is the need for international economic and business ties. The position of WHO and a number of other experts that in the modern world quarantine is not the best way to combat the spread of the virus is also taken into account. Apparently, they will be looking for a middle ground, ”says Ivan Vvedensky.
China will open borders gradually.
“New reasons for traveling abroad will be added. But group trips, which constituted the main flow of tourists from China to Russia, will be the last to open. It is difficult to say when this will happen. First, so-called individuals, maybe small family groups, will come to us from the PRC, ”says Mr. Vvedensky.
At Sheremetyevo International Airport, you get the feeling that you are in a branch of China. Guests from the Middle Kingdom, as a rule, are pensioners and the youth accompanying them, they buy alcohol, cosmetics and cigarettes in huge packages in duty-free, and the saleswomen ask them "shua ka?" (payment by card?). Around the inscriptions in Chinese, announcements are also voiced in three languages: Russian, English and Chinese. And this is not surprising, according to statistics, the Chinese are the most traveling nation, and in 2017 more than 1.5 million Chinese citizens visited Russia. How much does a trip from China to Russia cost for a Chinese tourist? To answer these questions, I went to one of the largest tourism fairs in China.
Traveling to Russia is a relatively budget tourist destination for tourists from China. On average, the cost of a trip departing from Beijing or Shanghai is calculated from the ratio of one thousand yuan (10,000 rubles) for one day of travel, including air tickets, accommodation in 4-5 stars hotels, transportation and meals. At the same time, Moscow and St. Petersburg will be more expensive - 120-130 thousand rubles in 10 days, and Irkutsk and Baikal will cost 80-90 thousand. In Vladivostok, the Chinese do not stay for more than 5 days, but the ratio is the same: about 60 thousand rubles for a trip with air tickets, good housing and food included.
The price of the tour rarely includes entrance tickets to most attractions, because the tour does not involve a visit, but "外观" (wàiguān, viewing from the outside) - such a mark stands in front of almost all churches, temples and palaces.
Those who want to get to know Russian culture better are offered a number of activities that will have to be paid for separately. For example, a visit to the ballet will cost 13,000 rubles, an excursion to the Tretyakov Gallery - 4,000 rubles, and Folk Songs and Dances - 5,000 rubles.
“The most disadvantageous destination for Chinese travel agencies is Vladivostok,” says a Chinese named Ivan. He lived in Russia for a long time, and after returning to his homeland he opened a travel agency. - Tourists from Shanghai are not ready to pay just for one city as much as they pay for Moscow and St. Petersburg or for Irkutsk and Baikal. At the same time, housing prices in Vladivostok are higher than in Moscow, which increases costs and reduces the travel agency's profits. Therefore, the Far East is of interest mainly to residents of border areas. "
The Chinese travel in groups, this format of tourism eliminates problems with language and finding food, the latter is a rather important point for tourists from China. Individual travel is preferred by people under 35. Considering that the average age of Chinese tourists visiting Russia is 50 years old, the Chinese you meet on Red Square came in a tour group.
There are hundreds of tours to Russia on Ctrip, the main travel site on the Chinese Internet. Almost nowhere do they write about the number of people in a group, but sometimes they indicate "29 人 小 团", which means "a small group of 29 people." Apart from the guide-translator. In this case, what then is a large group?
“20 people is the minimum number of people in a middle-price tourist group,” says Ivan, “but usually they are twice as large, trying to recruit 35 or more people.”
The map of Russia in the eyes of a Chinese tourist looks like this: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Irkutsk, Vladivostok, the Golden Ring, Volga and Baikal. Recently, Novosibirsk has been added to this list, which is positioned as the "center of Siberia". But there are tours to other cities, for example, to Murmansk - to admire the northern lights. Such a tour will cost much more - about 190,000 rubles for 9 days, it also includes two days in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg.
Last year, Russia was visited by about 1.25 million tourists from China. This is about 1% of the total number of Chinese who went abroad, but they are notable players in the domestic market. The shadow industry of hospitality for the citizens of the Celestial Empire has been actively developing for four years, but at the federal level it was noticed only in September after the "Chinese collapse" in the museums of St. Petersburg. Kommersant figured out how this business works.
In the morning on the Frunzenskaya embankment in Moscow, you can meet dozens of tourist groups from China. There are no special attractions in this area, but the whole street is lined with buses. The Chinese are brought to jewelry stores, of which there are six on the street.
If you are not part of a tourist group, you can only get into one of them. The rest are not allowed by the guards: they say that this is a private gallery that accepts only "on request." Or they silently hang up the "accounting" sign. The shop windows are covered with an opaque film. Locals claim that these shops, like the crowds of tourists from China, appeared in 2017.
There are shops "only for the Chinese" in St. Petersburg. One, for example, worked for two months within the walls of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Directly above the Amber Museum, after visiting which the Chinese were taken to the second floor for shopping. Prices there were much higher than average, amber jewelry cost several million rubles. According to local media reports, the owner was a Chinese man known as Yasha Li.
In August 2019, the Central Bank for the first time named Chinese tourists as leaders in total spending in Russia. At the same time, experts noted that the official $ 264 million that the Chinese left in the first three months of 2019 is no more than 40% of the amount they actually spent. The rest remained in the shadows.
Sources of Kommersant, working with Chinese tourists, pointed to the two most common violations in establishments “for their own” - unaccounted turnover of cash, including Chinese yuan, and transactions through the Chinese payment systems WeChat Pay and Alipay ... Such transactions are not recorded by the Russian tax service.
According to sources of Kommersant, on average one such store receives about 400 tourists a day. Some sellers pass off artificially grown stones as natural, while gold and low-purity amber are presented as an expensive product. Waybills and checks are issued, but the quality of the goods does not match the price. The Chinese will find out about this only after returning home and giving the jewelry for examination.
Tourists near a shop on Frunzenskaya embankment in Moscow
Russian tour operators claim that these establishments are renting premises for the season. They are issued for Russians, but in fact, a citizen of the PRC controls the activities.
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