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MOSCOW, January 28. \ITAR-TASS/. The Russia-Italy Bilateral Year of Tourism in 2013-2014 will help Russians to learn about new tourist routes and increase the tourist flow from Russia to the Apennines, Maya Lomidze, executive director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), told a news conference on Tuesday.
“Italy stands out among other Mediterranean destinations, being the place with no dumping practices observed either this year or in the previous one,” she said. “Today, it is the only destination offering such a varied program of excursions together with holidays at the seaside.”
Lomidze noted that Russian tour operators “have already opened programs for early booking of summer tours to Italy, which show that Russian tourists are interested either in most budget-friendly offers or most expensive and luxurious tours.”
“ATOR is currently working on an important project which will contain Russian tourists’ demands to Italian host companies and hotels,” Lomidze said. “The need to address this issue arouse together with the problem of insufficient Russian-speaking guides in Italy following a significant increase in the number of tourists from Russia.”
“Italy recognizes this problem and is ready to actively cooperate with representatives of Russian business to improve the situation in the forthcoming summer season,” she said.
Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini also said, “This is a problem which cannot be resolved quickly, given that the Russian language is much more difficult than Italian. But I suppose modern technologies like audio-guides, for example, could be of help in this case.”
The ambassador said earlier Italy should become more popular with Russian tourists.
“It is no secret that tourism is not only and not so much a way of doing something for rest and leisure as about mutual learning and cultural exchanges,” Ragaglini said. “I am glad that tourism in Russia is developing so fast. And I am glad that Russian tourists can easily visit Italy.”
“Our aim is to let everyone who is interested to know more about Unknown Italy,” he said. “We assume that a Russian tourist is an experienced tourist and has been to Italy at least once. But not everyone is familiar with Italy's small towns, built in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Each of them has its own history, culture and image. These towns are interesting and are ready to welcome Russian tourists.”
Ragaglini added that it was for the first time that Italy held a Year of Tourism abroad.
“This proves the significance of the Russian market for Italy’s tourism. Today, Russia ranks seventh by the number of visitors to Italy,” he said.
According to ATOR, one of the top destinations popular with Russian guests is Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy. Most required tours are those combining excursion programs and rest on the beach.
According to the Italian Embassy in Russia, about 1.2 million Russian tourists visited the country in 2013. The total number of visas issued by the Italian General Consulates in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2013 amounted to 770,000 – 22% more than in 2012.