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Interregional cooperation in tourism tackled at INWETEX-CIS Travel Market

Interregional cooperation in tourism tackled at INWETEX-CIS Travel Market

Today development of inbound and outbound tourism in the regions is hardly possible without support of the partners. Success of tourist brands is now more dependable on how many Russian and foreign partners are ready to organise joint promotion. How should tourism authorities, travel agencies and tourist and information centres interact with each other, and what common challenges do they face?

In search for solutions, the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development with support of Saint-Petersburg Express Ltd. (RESTEC® Group) and the North-West Division Office of the Russian Union of Travel Industry held a round table “Development of interregional contacts as a driving force for increase of domestic tourist flow in Russia” in the framework of the INWETEX-CIS International Travel Trade Fair. The round table was attended by over 50 tourism professionals from various regions of Russian.

The round table was moderated by Elmira Tukanova, Vice President of the National Association of Tourist and Information Organisations, Director of Sverdlovsk Tourism Development Centre.

The meeting started with the award ceremony for the volunteers from the Baltic Academy for Tourism and Entrepreneurship, St. Petersburg, who had accepted applications to insurance company from the clients of NEVA Travel Agency. The volunteers were awarded with letters of gratitude from the representatives of St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development. The Vice Chairman of the Committee Rimma Sachunova expressed her gratitude to the management of the Academy and the students for assistance in a challenging situation and readiness to help; then she presented her speech about the St. Petersburg projects on interregional cooperation development in Russia.

According to Rimma Sachunova, today the travel industry features over 50 agreements on cooperation between St. Petersburg and other regions of Russia. This cooperation implies not only interaction with executive authorities, but the following opportunities for travel companies: exhibiting at St. Petersburg joint stand at regional and international fairs, promotion of destination and services at presentations, conferences and other business events, as well as Days of St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Culture Days held in Russian cities and regions.

Recently the Committee has proposed a promising initiative to organise roadshow workshops “Welcome to St. Petersburg!” in 15 Russian cities in November 2014. Within the workshops in Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Ufa and other cities representatives of the Committee and travel companies and hotels of St. Petersburg will demonstrate the travel potential of this city. Participation in the roadshow will be free of charge for them.

Rimma Sachunova also mentioned the constant exchange of travel advertising activities between Russian regions. More than 100 outdoor advertising facilities inviting to the Crimea were placed this year in St. Petersburg. Banner exchange is currently negotiated on by St. Petersburg, Chuvashia, Pskov Region, Lipetsk Region, the Komi Republic and Khakassia, Astrakhan Krai, Khabarovsk Krai and Simferopol.

Tourist and information centres shall focus on interregional routes for individual travelers, according to Yulia Voronova, Director of the Tourist and Information Centre in Uglich. In her opinion, the goal of tourist and information centres is to provide information convenience for travelers, thus it is needed to unify work standards of such organisations.

Today there are only a few travelers aware of the services offered by tourist and information centres, thus it is important to popularise information centres in Russia. Yulia Voronova also stressed that event organisation by tourist and information centres should be carried out according with their general travel policy: “Tourists need no entertainers; they need Maslenitsa (Pancake Day).”

The topic was taken up by Nadezhda Petrova, the First Deputy CEO of "City Tourist and Information Bureau" Nadezhda Petrova who presented her speech "Tourist and information organisations as key players of interregional interaction in tourism". She spoke on activities of the St. Petersburg Tourist and Information Bureau regarding promotion of the city and interaction with international (ICCA, ECM) and Russian tourist organisations (Russian Union of Travel Industry, National Association of Tourist and Information Organisations).

"Interregional cooperation is aimed at joint efforts towards the development of uniform information environment for professionals of the tourist sector, quality improvement and joint promotion of tourist products,” stated Nadezhda Petrova. She emphasized considerable number of organisation’s partners: 37 Russian and 10 foreign information centres which constantly exchange information and advertising materials on their websites.

Olga Sanayeva, Chairman of the Regional Council of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, General Director of Ankor, told about the importance to address issues of cooperation between tourist and information centres and travel agencies. According to her, such centres become competitors of traditional tour operators. "Travel industry will support organisations of this kind under no circumstances,” the expert claimed and expressed her hope that tourism professionals in Russian regions will manage to develop efficient communication.

General Director of Intourist LLC Leonid Marmer spoke in favour of intensification of communication between tourist and information centres and travel agencies of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Such projects as “school trains” Moscow - St. Petersburg in New Year time and the project on promotion of inbound tourism were presented by Igor Mazulov, General Director of Petrotur Service and Chairman of the Commission on children and youth tourism at the North-West Division Office of the Russian Union of Travel Industry.

Interregional cooperation in tourism is not a luxury; sometimes it is the only available promotion tool, according to Olga Khotochkina, Director of Intourmarket Travel Fair. Many regions cannot afford to promote their destinations and it becomes possible thanks to promotion in the framework of interregional organisations. She cited three largest interregional projects as an example: ‘The Eastern Ring of the Urals’, ‘The Great Ring of the Urals’ and ‘The Great Volga’. Each project meets its own challenges from marketing to legislative goals.

“It is generally known that poor logistics, lack of infrastructure and qualified staff significantly prevent the inbound tourism from development,” summed up the moderator Elmira Tukanova. “Today we have fully understood the lack of information exchange. Thus I would like to suggest that the experts should consider the idea of new uniform standards for tourist and information centres, including educational centres. The issues of cooperation between information centres and travel agencies may be addressed through closer cooperation between the experts of the National Association of Tourist and Information Organisations with relevant organisations and the Russian Union of Travel Industry”.