St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg

Russia: The unexplored tourist trove

December 23, 2021
In the upcoming decade, Russia embarks on an ambitious project to offer an unmatched tourism experience for Asian travelers, especially those from India. Russia has a huge untapped potential in the tourism arena. The nation is bestowed with unique natural resources, monuments and sites of world culture, and historical heritage

The largest country in the world, Russia is a particularly intriguing market for the global travel and tourism industry. While COVID-19 has alerted the market realities, like in the rest of the world, with tourist arrivals dropping by 30 times, Russia is keen on expanding inbound tourism  and is investing heavily in modernising and creating new tourist infrastructure across its multiple destinations, spanning from Saint-Petersburg to Lake Baikal to Kamchatka.

In the first half of 2021, as the borders with most countries remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, little over 5 million foreigners entered Russia in the first half of 2021, according to The Federal Agency for Tourism data. Out of them, only 64,000 people visited for tourism purposes ( the remaining number stands for citizens of neighbouring countries). This is compared to nearly 33 million foreigners that arrived in Russia in 2019, out of which over 5 million were tourists, mainly from China, Germany, South Korea, US and other countries.

Russia’s revenue in the travel and tourism segment was forecast at UA$ 6.79 billion in 2020, ranking behind other BRIC countries, according to Statista. After hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia increased its popularity among foreign travelers. Therefore, the travel and tourism share in the GDP reached 3.9 percent prior to the pandemic. By 2035, Russia expects tourism to contribute not less than 6 percent to its GDP, according to the new strategy for development of the tourism sector.

The game has begin

Russia and its tourism industry is already trying to reach out to the Indian tour operators. Indians became genuinely interested in the nation after the FIFA 2018 event. Even Russia invested a lot of resources to upgrade her tourism infrastructure. They are educating the Indian trip planners about the tourist opportunities of Russian regions, such as St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Leningrad and Yaroslavl regions, the Republic of Tatarstan, the Golden Ring, and the Silver Necklace of Russia. They are also keen to promote the attractive features of winter sports and leisure in the country.

The mutual Russian-Indian tourist flow has doubled over the past nine years. Additionally, it is showing significant potential for further growth. Russia is keen to provide bespoke tourism experiences for the Indian guests to strengthen the tourism ties with India.

As a result of Russian endeavours, awareness on Russian tourism among Indian tourist operators is growing rapidly.

Even  sports lovers won't be disappointed by Russia. Russia is now counted as a potential leader in sports tourism too. The Indo-Russian bond has stood the test of time, irrespective of the ever-changing geo-political scenarios. This bond can promote socio-cultural tourism, boosting the economy on both sides.

Efforts by RosTourism

Russia is eyeing India as its priority international market that can provide a sizable amount of visitor flow. RosTourism, the governing body of Russia Tourism, is actively promoting Russia Tourism in India. They took many steps to make the Indian guests feel more welcomed than ever.

In fact, Indians are also looking towards Russia, and beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. Indians are flocking towards Russia with many new cities on their itinerary. They are now visiting more obscure destinations like: Murmansk, Kazan, Baikal Lake, Sochi, Kamchatka, Kaliningrad, Yaroslavl and many more.