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New ’Russia Friendly’ association to make Russian tourists comfortable abroad

March 18, 2014, 1:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The project is designed, among other things, to spread the Russian language in foreign countries

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© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

MOSCOW, March 18, /ITAR-TASS/. An association called ‘Russia Friendly’, aimed to create comfortable conditions for Russian tourists abroad, will start working within a month, the organisers of the project announced on Monday at the Intourmarket International Trade Fair for Tourism and Travel, held in Moscow from March 15 to 18, 2014.

The project is designed, among other things, to spread the Russian language in foreign countries, to promote foreign citizens’ interest in Russia and to improve the image of the country abroad.

The association should bring together foreign hotels, transport companies, public catering enterprises, medical centres, museums and amusement parks, interested in attracting tourists from Russia. The authors of the project said the association would include only those companies actively implementing the Russian language in their services and engaging Russian-speaking employees.

“Today, the question of understanding is the most important one for 40 percent of Russians travelling abroad. The lack of understanding can sometimes ruin the holiday,” a spokesman for the association’s organising committee said. “To enter the association, an organisation should prove that there are Russian speakers on the staff. A hotel should prove the presence of Russian-speaking television channels and menu cards in Russian.”

“In this case, the company will be assigned a Russia Friendly certificate,” he added.

The Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism), the Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) and the Russian Travel Industry Union (RST) expressed their willingness to join the association.

Rostourism Deputy Head Grigory Sarishvilli said the agency cared about the way Russian travellers spend their holidays abroad.

“In this regard we are traditionally interested in the quality of tourism services and safety of tourists,” Sarishvilli said. “We already cooperate with administrations and travel companies in different countries and, therefore, we have been encouraged by the idea to create such an association. This will be a good instrument for creating comfortable conditions for Russians abroad given that many tourists often complain about the lack of information in Russian.”

Deputy President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia Vadim Prasov said in his turn: “The association should become a body allowing foreign companies working in the sphere of tourism services to face Russian tourists.”

“People nowadays can speak foreign languages to a greater or lesser degree but the conditions should be created for all tourists,” Prasov added.

According to the World Tourism Organization, about 52 million Russian citizens travelled to foreign countries last year.

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