Russia's Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev told reporters in Sochi this week of record numbers of foreigners having visited the country over the last 12 months. According to Mr. Medvedev, the 20 million travelers from abroad is a record number.
The prime minister went on to describe the huge potential for tourism development in Russia, and recalled the establishment 6 weeks ago of the Coordination Council for the Development of Domestic Tourism. Over the last year inbound and domestic tourism development had been allocated some 4 billion rubles from the federal budget. Mr. Medvedev added:
"The development of the domestic tourism industry is one of the indicators of the quality of life of the country, so we must create all the necessary conditions for the industry's growth."
According to Medvedev, the development of more easily accessible tourism via the Internet is one priority. The PM added that the availability of passenger transport via civil aviation and railways would need further support too. Last year air travel within Russia grew substantially, but he expressed a need for more carriers and initiatives to boost touristic routes.
The number of domestic tourists traveling about the country exceeded 50 million, or as Mr. Medvedev put it, "more than a third of our population." Traditionally, Russians tend to visit the various resorts, in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of the major gateways of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The Sochi resort is a special case in that the Black Sea gem gets Russian and foreign visitors. Meanwhile tour operators and travel agencies were pleased to hear the prime minister talk of subsidies to assist their businesses. Medvedev told reporters:
"Many travel agencies and tour operators are currently working in highly challenging conditions. There is a suggestion to provide subsidies for those of them that intend to focus on national routes. This will require development of a series of regulatory documents and I will give such an assignment after the today’s meeting."
Feature image courtesy our partners at Gelio Vostok photography.