The inbound tourism market in Russia is on the verge of global changes. And the business has very little time to prepare for them - until 2021. It was by this date that Vladimir Putin ordered the introduction of an electronic visa system in Russia for the entry of foreigners. And if the president ordered, it means that in less than a year and a half we will see a completely different flow of tourists from the border.
However, it turned out that tour operators not only do not prepare, but do not even believe in the upcoming changes. The general director of the media holding Profi wrote on his Facebook page about the controversy on this topic that flared up at one of the sessions held at the UNWTO platform. ravel Alexey Vengin.
“Tour operators working according to the traditional model of inbound tourism product distribution, which has remained practically unchanged for 70 years, will soon begin to lose their customers” - this was the key idea of his speech at UNWTO.
The explanation is simple: the usual scheme according to which foreign partners send groups to Russian companies is more suitable for tourists aged 60+. Because in the West, they are the only ones who continue to buy tour packages from agencies. Even without taking into account the approaching era of electronic visas, it is clear: this situation cannot last forever - at least because these clients are not forever. The category of foreign tourists 25+ is not available to tour operators: these buyers live online, travel agencies are an extra link for them. However, foreigners and in the network, apart from classical tours to Moscow, along the Golden Ring and the Trans-Siberian Railway, can hardly find anything. Even Kazan, which has become the third tourist capital, has almost no offers.
What will happen in 2021 when the quest for obtaining a visa to Russia goes into oblivion? This can already be seen today on the example of Vladivostok, where foreign tourists can now issue entry documents online. According to Expedia, bookings soared 62% in a year. Obviously, in this case we are talking about independent travelers. And the Department of Tourism of the Primorsky Territory confirms: the main increase is not at all due to the clients of travel agencies. This means that in order to get their piece of the pie, “tour operators need to go not to exhibitions, but to,” Aleksey Vengin is sure.
Opinions of users under the post of the head of the media holding diverged. Some fundamentally disagree with the findings of CEO Profi. ravel. From their point of view, the picture in the entry segment is far from as depressing as Alexei Vengin drew - companies are already constantly changing to meet the needs of foreign clients, otherwise they would have been lost long ago. It's just that this activity may not be visible to an outside observer. According to them, it is akin to working with oil fields: no one wants to shine in public space. As for the promotion of Russia abroad, it should be carried out by Rostourism, regional agencies and ministries of tourism. “Small and medium businesses represented by tour operators and DMC have been promoting for 20 years. Until budget funds were allocated for this, we invested our own. And now - maybe that's enough for us? Let the budget organizations work it out already, ”explains Natalia Evnevich, director of the Concord Group.
Others are sure that the e-visa system will completely change the market. And those who do not have time to rebuild to the new realities will be left behind. And if the promotion of the country as a whole is really the task of the state, then a specific tourist product is a matter of the tour operator. “First you need to think about the product,” advises Ivan Gulyaev, head of Summit Business Travel & MICE. “Three or four times in the last couple of months I saw on the Internet reviews of foreigners who are already sick of kokoshniks, borders and bears with balalaikas, which they are mercilessly stuffed with the Trans-Siberian express.”
Still others believe that changes will be gradual, tour operators still have time - the established scheme will survive for now. “In St. Petersburg, the basis of a civilized tourist flow is German grandmothers 60+. They have large pensions, social pay, and they live happily ever after. And in ten years, other people in Europe who are not used to buying classic packages in travel agencies will retire, ”says Alexander Gorokhov, General Director of the Union of National and International Tourism Information Organizations. Who is right? It is important for us to know your opinion - take part in the survey.
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