The Far East: a unique region with great tourist potential
“One of the Far East’s unique advantages is that year-round tourism is possible here. While fishing, hunting, going to the beach and eco-tourism are primarily popular in the summer, then alpine skiing is on top in winter… How can this benefit an investor? Well, this provides a steadily predicable flow of tourists and subsequently high returns on any investment project. This is exactly why tourism projects that focus on the Far East are interesting for investors,” said Roman Solntsev of the Far East Investment and Export Agency.
“Tourism can become a major driver, a powerhouse for economic and socioeconomic development of the whole Far East at large. <…> Meanwhile, tourism has not yet even started working in our Far East. In other words, we have just launched this highly important project,” noted Oleg Safonov, Head, Russian Federal Agency for Tourism.
The Far East and its sights are little-known and lack any travel ads or promos
“We do not know Russian tourism attractions, actually. Many Koreans still think Russia is the Soviet Union. <…> I think the most urgent and important problem is to rouse tourists’ enthusiasms for the country. <…> We have to organize major media fan trips between two countries and make them on a regular basis,” said Namgyu Kang, Director General of the Korea Tourism Organization, Moscow Office.
“For example, I admire the Far East, I visited the Valley of Geysers, but everything is now getting round via word-of-mouth advertising. In other words, finding information on the Far East, its possible services and an opportunity to go there as a matter of principle is extremely difficult because, firstly, nobody knows what is presently here and, secondly, there is no one-stop-shop to get all that information,” said Leonid Altukhov, President, Group of Companies Netkom-IPC.
“I regret saying we have absolutely forgotten the topic of balneal resources, the topic of healthcare and wellness. There is a need to develop a single map of the Far East’s therapeutic prospects,” noted Irina Yarovaya, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
Poor transportation and low-level of service
“Many tourist sights and many hotels have no capabilities to accommodate a large number of tourists. Roads, airplanes and transportation fail to provide truly good transport accessibility… The service is the service China had about thirty years ago, it is absolutely primitive. There is good cuisine, good food and a good opportunity to cook fine meals, but each time the service is just revolting,” said Ping Wang, Chairman, China Chamber of Tourism.
Slow operations of customs
“When estimating the time, how many people can visit you if 3-4 or even 5 minutes are spent per person [at the customs]? <…> We need to make it so that customs provide services in a normal manner,” Ping Wang said.
The Far East sights need to be advertised and raise tourists’ awareness
“The situation has definitely gone far past its prime for a large-scale presentation of everything the Far East can offer. Smartphone applications in languages of the Asia-Pacific Region should be available here. <…> This is a ‘school task,’ I would say, considering that all children are already using exactly this format of getting information,” Irina Yarovaya said.
Promoting new travel products and programs
“It seems to me that we will need to organize cross-border routes, to provide offers that will be interesting for Russian citizens and citizens of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. The routes combining visits to our Far East and Vladivostok in particular and visits to China, Japan and Korea accordingly. This is because this is a worldwide trend. Everyone is interested in probably visiting several countries, rather than just one,” Oleg Safonov noted.
Improving the region’s transportation accessibility
“A tourist schedule (with cheap airfare) should be put together and charter flights with such tariffs should be arranged (like ‘flat rates’ for residents of the region,” Irina Yarovaya added.