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Russia may become world leader in tourist market - analyst

November 30, 2011, 18:22 UTC+3

Russia is capable of becoming one of the leaders in the travel market in the world

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MOSCOW, November 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is capable of becoming one of the leaders in the travel market in the world, if it "changes the system of management in the industry and makes a rapid headway in the development of tourism infrastructures," the director of the Institute of Social Health with extensive experience in the federal executive and legislative branches, Alexander Pochinok, said commenting on the debate in the media about the prospects and ways of developing tourism in Russia.

"Ideally, there should be a separate, small but powerful ministry that would provide regulatory training in the development of tourism as an industry, and a very serious corporation engaged running the resorts of Russia - their creation, attraction of investors and the building of roads for a large number of businesses," he said. "Over the past three decades not a single new ship has started plying our rivers, we have built almost no new resorts, and in our wonderful unique cities of the very same Golden Ring only a few enthusiasts are fighting for the survival of their businesses. We need not a handful of enthusiasts, but colossal work," Pochinok said.

He is convinced that without public-private partnership the tourism sector would be unable to carry on. "It is a huge industry, and hoping that small and even large firms can create such a machinery will be futile,” Pochinok said. “There are to be huge airports, a colossal infrastructure, and a large number of roads. Whatever you may take requires massive investment - only then they will yield a real result."

"We need a regulatory framework: we have in our legislation a great deal of amazing absurdities. And we certainly need training," said the expert.

"We have failed to notice that the situation in the tourist market changes dramatically, there are far more tourists, because people these days live much longer, revenues have grown, retirees have become to travel more actively, people have the opportunity to take a vacation twice a year, young people have started driving about, that is, tourism has become much more widespread. But we continue to believe that tourism is confined to canoeing and hiking, while in the world it is a huge industry of rest and leisure," said Pochinok.

He believes that Russia can rise from its current 59th place in terms of competitiveness of the tourism sector to enter the top ten, but only on the condition of large-scale efforts. "The current market structure as it is, if you do too little you will certainly fail, but if you take a long leap, you achieve a huge surplus. We can, we have the conditions for that. And we shall make a rapid headway, if we try really hard," he said. Pochinok recalled that the countries in the top ten tourist powers received at least 25 million tourists a year each. France is number one. It receives an annual 75 million foreign travelers a year and the domestic tourist flow is enormous. "Even this place is achievable in principle some day: Russia is a very attractive country in terms of tourism. But this business must be done properly," he said.

As an indicator of the current levels of tourism Pochinok pointed to Singapore's hotel complex Resorts World Sentosa, which last year received 19.5 million holiday-makers. "It's more than our entire Krasnodar region hosted in the same period,” he said. “In Macau (China) there is a hotel with an area of a million square meters - more than the annual housing construction program of a major territory of the Russian Federation. And they are filled with people." In the Caribbean, continued Pochinok, one ship carries 300,000 tourists a year. "We had had no normal cruise ports. Then we built one in St. Petersburg to get 160 calls per year and a huge number of tourists - 8-10 thousand a day, and I am sure, there will be 16 thousand people per day - precisely because there has been created the infrastructure. If we make just one cruise port in Sochi - we'll get 20-30 thousand guests a week," said the former FC member.

He believes that the scale of tourism development at this stage is crucial. "Businesses that are loss-making at a level of 10 thousand tourists go profitable if there are ten million clients,” he said.

In his opinion, this is precisely the aim of the large-scale project Resorts of the North Caucasus. "For a gondola to be profitable you need 15 thousand sight-seers per mountain. If we can manage to achieve this flow - the resort will start working and with it, the region's whole economy,” Pochinok said.

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