The Russian inbound tourism industry has been slammed as a “disaster,” during a lively panel debate at the inaugural WTM [World Travel Market] Vision Conference - Moscow.
KMP Group President, Vladimir Kantorowich, labelled the inbound Russian industry as the “Cinderella of the Russian tourism industry” claiming the “government has done nothing to develop it,” at WTM Vision Conference – Moscow, which took place at the Moscow Marriot Grand Hotel.
“The global travel and tourism industry is one of the 5 top cash generators in the world,” he told the conference’s 150 senior industry delegates, “Yet in Russia, we are addicted to oil and gas. In destinations where there is no oil and gas, inbound tourism can be the driver for the local economy. After all, when people come into the country they bring in new money.”
Kantorowich, who is also the Vice President of the tourist board body, ANTOR, criticized the Russian government for failing to keep accurate inbound tourism statistics and making it difficult for tourists to visit the country.
“You cannot objectively assess inbound tourism as the “stays” are not trustworthy,” he added during the final session of WTM Vision Conference – Moscow, “Officials cheat and exaggerate tourism numbers to the extent that some regions apparently have more tourists than the whole country.”
Kantorowich also slammed Russia’s visa entry requirements that see it easier for business people to enter the country on tourist visa than it is on business visas, while accusing the government of playing politics with the inbound industry.
“We must have correct stays figures, business visas are much more difficult to achieve than tourism visas, which sees business people pretend to be tourists to get visas easier,” he said.
“These are all issues of politics and not of economic success. Football is our current political priority,” he added, “There is competition for every German, French, and Japanese tourist.”
Kantorowich’s comments followed exclusive research from Euromonitor International, which revealed Russia is set to see a 20 percent increase in inbound tourists over the next 4 years, fueled by the hosting of major sporting events.
Russian inbound visitors will increase to 28.3 million in 2016 from 23.7 million in 2012 due to the hosting of sporting events, including the 2013 World Athletic Championships and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Also, WTM’s social media expert, Steve Keenan, told delegates the Russian people “are the most engaged in social media in the world.”
Reed Travel Exhibitions Director, World Travel Market, Simon Press – who opened the conference – said: “I am delighted with the success of the first WTM Vision Conference – Moscow.
“Around 150 of the most senior executives in the Russian industry heard the latest statistics, research, and opinion, which included a lively and frank panel debate. It was a great start to the WTM Vision Conference series, which moves on to London on April 19.
The WTM Vision Conference series was launched in 2009 in London expanding to Milan and Dubai (at fellow Reed Travel Exhibitions Event Arabian Travel Market) in 2011.
The full program of WTM Vision conferences is: