Arrivals grow faster than departures
The end of the review period was significant for Russian tourism, with the industry showing positive dynamics. Although outbound tourism remained much larger in terms of number of trips, inbound tourism posted stronger growth in 2011 and 2012. This was driven by several factors, including the Domestic and Inbound Tourism Development federal programme, growing online tourism and upcoming sports events.
Domestic and Inbound Tourism Development programme has significant impact
Russia’s new federal tourism development programme was created in order to improve the image of Russia as a tourism destination, promote the national tourism product, stimulate foreign investment in the Russian tourism infrastructure and increase the competitiveness of the Russian tourism industry. Despite the fact that the programme was only signed in August 2011, initial results were already present. Significant growth of inbound tourism flows was noted in 2012. It was the highest number of inbound trips in Russia for 15 years. Additionally, the rebranding of Russia in the world tourism market has started. The Government and private investors placed significant efforts into presenting Russia as an attractive destination country.
Legislation concerning travel retail tightens following bankruptcies
The bankruptcy of one of the largest tour operators, Capital Tour OOO, in 2010 as well as the collapse of other tourism companies Lanta Tour Voyage Ltd, ITC and Idealny Mir in 2011, had a serious effect on the Russian tourism industry. In most of these cases, Russian tourists were left abroad without any help from the company in question. Moreover, tourists did not receive any compensation. Due to these dramatic events, the Russian Government opted to reform the legislation concerning the operation of travel agents. Compensation funds for tourist protection, as well as for increasing financial guarantees for tour operators, was established in 2012. According to this legislation it is mandatory for travel agents to become a member of the compensation fund; only with this condition is a travel agent able to get a licence to operate. As a result, only travel agents with strong financial backgrounds, which are able to contribute to the compensation fund, will be able to operate.
Russian consumers actively shift towards internet sales
The importance of online sales is growing. Growth was observed in all tourism categories, such as air transportation, hotels, car rental and others. Growing availability of online services makes trip planning more convenient and accessible. This is driving increased interest in independent travel. The growing number of online travel agents, including OZON.ru (Internet Travel OOO), Anywayanyday.com (Bukbilet OOO), Amargo.ru (Avians OOO) and others, also contributes to the rising popularity of online tourism services consumption. Additionally, the growing popularity of various mobile devices and social networks, such as VKontakte, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, has indirectly driven up internet sales.
Positive influence of upcoming sports events
Upcoming sports events, such as the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the FIFA World Cup, are also set to have a positive impact on promoting Russia as a destination country. Interest in Russia will grow before and after the globally significant events. Russia will be more recognisable in the international tourism arena, while the conditions for travelling will be improved. The positive impact for the tourism industry from sporting events was noted during the 2013 World University Games in Kazan. Tourism flows to Kazan increased significantly; this event saw 150,000 arrivals.
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