Author Topic: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted  (Read 20425 times)

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Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« on: January 11, 2005, 08:08:41 PM »
Tourism Growth Halted

By Galina Stolyarova

For the first time in 7 years St. Petersburg
city government has reported
discouraging news on the tourism front: the
number of visitors has stopped
"Our results will at best repeat last year's
figures," said Viktor Pakhomkov,
deputy head of the External Affairs and Tourism
Committee of the city
government. In 2003, 3.12 million foreign
tourists visited St. Petersburg, which was
then a 15 percent hike from 2002.

In the meantime, some local hotels have improved
their sales in 2004. Yana
Lakizina, PR-manager of Grand Hotel Europe, said
they had more guests this year
than in 2003, and the tendency was for guests to
stay longer.

Negative publicity

According to Sergei Korneyev, head of the
Northwest branch of the Russian
Union of Travel Industry participants (RST), two
plane crashes, a series of
blasts and the hostage tragedy in Beslan led to
the cancellations for 20,000
foreign tourist groups planning a trip to Russia.
Concurrently, St. Petersburg
suffered a 20-percent decline in tourism from

"St. Petersburg and its region are considered the
safest regions in all of
Russia," Korneyev said. "But a terrorist attack
typically affects the entire
country, and not only the area where it happens."

"This year was not an easy one for all of us,"
said Luba Aprelikova, director
of sales and marketing at Renaissance St.
Petersburg Baltic Hotel. "The city
was still living on the wave of the 300 year
anniversary and getting large
visitor numbers when the tragic events of Beslan
shocked the world."

As a result, Aprelikova noted a decline in
business, or corporate, tourism:
"Russia was taken off the list of 'incentive
destinations' by some of the large
international travel agencies."

Pakhomkov said that many trips to St. Petersburg
were canceled at the last
minute. "Several thousands tourists cancelled
their reservations, and of course
nobody can calculate the number of people who
simply changed their mind about
wanting to travel to St. Petersburg," he

Poor funding

This year, St. Petersburg missed almost all
important travel exhibitions
abroad owing to limited funds. In 2004, the city
budget for tourism development
was cut by more than 80 percent: just 6 million
rubles ($200,000) was allotted
to promote the city. As a result, the city
attended only 4 international
tourism exhibitions, a far cry from the 18-22
events the St. Petersburg delegation
was able to attend in previous years.

By comparison, Moscow's tourism budget this year
stood at an enviable 310
million rubles, and the sum will be boosted to a
handsome 900 million rubles next
year, Pakhomkov said.

In the meantime, the northern capital will have
to make do with same 6
million rubles again next year.

"This is obviously wrong and a shame for the
city," Pakhomkov said. "The
industry brings from 10 percent to 12 percent of
the city's total income -
something like 100 billion rubles ($370

Balancing the books

Leonid Flit, general director of Nika Travel
Agency, said a major transport
company, able to respond to increasing needs of
the local travel industry,
should be created. "In the Soviet years,
Intourist was doing fine, but now they
can't cope with all the requests. They simply
don't have enough buses."

Still another view stressed by many experts was
the need to move official
events from the White Nights summer season in
order to allow more ordinary
tourists to visit the city, and make the industry
busier during the low season.

Gennady Belonogov, general director of
Pulkovskaya Hotel, pointed to a
comparison between St. Petersburg's modest 15,000
beds at local hotels and London's
more than 300,000.

"The shortage is damaging the industry," he said.
"The small hotels aren't
helping it much. Nobody is building large hotels
here because it takes about 7
years to repay the money invested, and people
don't want to take risks. The
city has to think how to make it more attractive
for investors."

Belonogov added that potential investors
expressed concern about a drastic
gap in occupancy between the summer and the
winter months. Low winter tourist
numbers was an investor worry.


Security is still a major concern for tourists,
and not just foreigners, but
also Russian nationals traveling.

Foreign visitors bombarded their hosts with
complaints in the summer
concerning poor security on the city's streets.
Once out of the hotel, the chances of
theft were high, tourists complained.

"Over the past several years, we have installed
over 200 cameras in our
hotel, and it has been a very efficient system,"
Pulkovskaya's Belonogov said. "But
we are not responsible for the insufficient
street patrolling."

Rachel Shackleton, general director of Concept
Training, Development and
Consultancy Services, believes security has to be
focused on, with concrete
actions needed to be taken by the city tourist
committee to bring visible results.

"The situation needs to be addressed in a very
serious way to defeat those
few who are damaging the image of this city as a
destination," Shackleton said.

Infrastructure ailing

Furthermore, experts point out that there have
been no improvements to the
city's infrastructure. There is still a big
challenge in the process of
receiving visas for Russia; it remains
problematic to arrange tours to museums, which
are overcrowded despite increased prices; traffic
jams seem to be only getting

"On the transportation front, I don't see any
changes at all. There's been no
real effort to structure parking or traffic
systems to manage the increased
flow of traffic," Shackleton said.

Thomas Noll, general manager of Corinthia Nevskij
Palace Hotel, said many
guests made complaints about the city's ailing
infrastructure. "What we hear more
often is how things are organized at Pulkovo
airport, when you have to cue up
outside the terminal in the cold winter
temperatures in order to go through
the security control," Noll said.

Attractive possibilities

Lyudmila Ivanova, director of the Association of
Tourism Exhibitions, said
Great Britain's annual profit from the tourism
industry makes Pound3 billion
($5.79 billion), and this is what St. Petersburg
should be aiming at, if not
immediately, then in the near future.

"A Unesco report this year rated St. Petersburg
at No.8 in a list of the
world's most attractive destinations," Ivanova
said. "We should be promoting the
city much more intensively.

"Prague is visited by 12 million people a year,
but the Czech National
Tourism board is investing lots more into
promoting the Czech capital than Russians
do to promote St. Petersburg."

In Noll's opinion, the town's marketing and
promotion are still in the
nascent stages. "Currently promotion concepts are
being developed by the Boston
Consulting Group and TACIS to raise the city to a
No. 5 most attractive
destination in the world," Noll said.

"But once a good model is created, efficient
cooperation is needed between
the government and private enterprises to
establish a effective marketing
service for the city."

Offline Belochka

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2005, 07:15:16 PM »
I have always felt safe in Russia ... Pickpocketers and security issues are not just a Russian phenomenon. Perhaps because it is a transforming economy foreigners are more acutely judging the bad and failing to appreciate the good.

Certainly there is room to improve the infrasructure and transforming much of the administrative protocols ... but there have been excellent improvements made as well. We can now freely chose to travel within its borders and see what we like without having to seek special permission. Importantly we can be on our own without having to look who may be behind us.

It will take years for modern Russia to rid itself of soviet decay and temperament.

Interestingly, as I walked down many city streets often I was asked for the time, or could you please pass me "this"? ... no problem for me, but it does highlight that the average citizen is not used to the independant tourist, moreso in rergions away from SPb and Moscow.

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Offline Ausmanov

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2013, 01:49:04 AM »
Very interesting. I think that while there may still be security issues in Russia, the biggest issue as far as the tourist industry is concerned is the outside worlds perception of Russia. a lot of people i speak to about Russia have maintained the negative stereotypical view of russia from the soviet era. it is a misconception i always get joy from correcting and talking to people about the beauty of Russia.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 09:35:54 AM »
. . . a lot of people i speak to about Russia have maintained the negative stereotypical view of russia . . . .

Well, why wouldn't they?


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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 06:06:32 PM »
. . . a lot of people i speak to about Russia have maintained the negative stereotypical view of russia . . . .

Well, why wouldn't they?

Well, that's bad news, not only for the  attitude of intolerance for gays and lesbians, which is bad enough, but also for the sheer stupidity , arbitrariness, and not so petty tyranny involved in criminalizing speech (propaganda, really?) between and towards young people.

 It seems Russia really is regressing rapidly these days.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2013, 06:32:20 AM »
I think we in the west -- and particularly in the U.S. -- persist in our misunderstanding of Russia.  We tend to think of Russia as a land of people who largely share our expectations of government, who crave the same personal freedoms and civil liberties we have, and whose desires have been endlessly thwarted by whatever government is forced on them.

In the reign of Nicholas I, General A. E. Tsimmerman, a frequent commentator on Russian society, noted:

"Generally we in Russia are normally much closer to Constantinople and Tehran than to Paris or London.  The very understanding of the Russian people about good and evil, about right, about law, and justice, comes closest to that of the eastern peoples.  In government, the people respect and particularly want to see strentgh.  Our common people love to see in their ruler a powerful and stern sovereign."

This observation came over a century after Peter I made Russia a European power and forcibly turned her face westward.  It came after a century dotted with rulers who either were born and raised in the west or who spent much of their adult lives in the west and who brought western views to some aspects of government:  Anna, Peter III, Catherine II.  It came a century after the last Russian-born consort shared an imperial throne, to be replaced by a line of invariably western consorts.  It came after Alexander I enmeshed Russia in European affairs and built his diplomacy, both pro and con, and some aspects of his domestic policy around the Napoleonic system that emerged for a time in Europe and seized the imagination of the noble classes across Europe.

Russian history is a continuum, with even the soviet era but a continuation of tsarism in terms of foreign policy, security policy, ethnic policy, and even economic policy.  (The 5-year plans of soviet Russia had their origins in Peter I's industrialization and militarization policies.  The KGB traced its origins back to the Oprichniki of Ivan IV, up through the Third Section of Nicholas I and the Ohkrana of the last Russian tsar.)

And the fact that in 2013 the Russian legislature could vote such a anti-gay measure with unanimity (something virtually unheard of in a real democracy on virtually any question) indicates how very thin the veneer of democracy is in Russia today.

We think of Russia's dealings in the Middle East -- and with Iran in particular -- as some kind of perversion, some horrible misunderstanding of how democratic governments should behave.  In fact, as General Tsimmerman pointed out a full two centuries ago, the true perversion from the Russian perspective is trying to mimic western ways.

It's fine -- no, necessary -- to try to be on good terms with Russia.  But we should never forget the nature of the bear with which we're dancing.

« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 02:13:53 PM by Forum Admin »

Offline edubs31

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2013, 09:39:19 AM »
I agree completely with your assessment here Tsarfan.

A couple things I'd like to add. For starters, I'm obviously not Russia and have never even been to Russia (and even if I had it would only be as a tourist), so I don't claim to speak for the Russian people. But one of the things I find so interesting about the country and its history is that it is a bridge. Literally in how it connects Europe and eastern Asian, and culturally in how it's identity is a blend of varying ethnicities and sociopolitical backgrounds.

Obviously the western border and St. Petersburg is naturally going to have more of a European influence whereas the further south and east you head typically you'll find a stronger Asian flavor. But Russia as a whole seems full of fascinating little idiosyncrasies. Now as in the past.

Democracy and national building aren't easy. But when a country has a hard time getting together to embrace that as its new political system it's doomed either to fail completely or become a perversion of the more traditional and stable democratic republics of the west that Russia (and others) are attempting to mimic in the first place. On the whole I'd say Russia from a political standpoint has been a disappointment over the past two-plus decades. Considering how much hope was placed after it threw off its communist shackles I get the feeling that we raised the bar too high. America and much of the west was on a roll in the 1990s, and the world community was relatively stable and peaceful (comparatively at least). I guess we naturally assumed Russia, suddenly our quirky ally, would follow suit and transition with ease into a flourishing free & capitalist state. We were, in a word, "naive".
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Offline TimM

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2013, 07:14:56 PM »
We think of Russia's dealings in the Middle East -- and with Iran in particular

Why does Russia want to be buddies with Iran?

The reason I ask is that Russia is having its own troubles with radical Islam in the Caucasus region.  I'll lay you credits to beans that Iran is backing those radicals (they're right next door, more or less to that region).  Why are they eager to do business with the country that is backing terrorists that have killed so many innocent Russian citizens.  It boggles the mind.  Or do they so desperate to get the oil that they're willing to overlook this (and one has to wonder how much of the money Russia pays for the oil is being funneled by Iran to the terrorists).

If Russia thinks they're safe because they're not the U.S., they better think again.  Radical Islam considers ALL non-Muslims their enemy.   Granted right now the majority of their hate is directed at the West, but terrorist attacks HAVE occurred on Russian soil against Russian citizens, so this should show that they are not immune to this.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 07:23:09 PM by TimM »
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2013, 10:27:40 PM »
The 400+ years of relations between Russia and Persia (now Iran) have been up and down, to the point that there is no consistent historical pattern.

However, currently several things are drawing them toward each other, although often tentatively:

- both are suspicious of Turkey's plans and aspirations
- as Iran comes to ever greater loggerheads with the west, it is seeking friends in the region
- western arms embargoes on Iran have caused Iran to turn toward Russia and China for arms
- Russia, while worried about arming Iran and incurring U.S. wrath for doing so, is also reluctant to drive Iran further into the arms of China by saying no
- Russia, which has had trouble finding foreign markets for its manufactured products since the Iron Curtain fell, is now Iran's seventh largest trading partner
- both Russia and Iran want to counterbalance U.S. influence in Central Asia
- Russia does not buy Iranian oil, which is currently sold almost exclusively to China, Japan, India, and South Korea
- both Russia and Iran are net hydrocarbon exporters (with Iran biased toward oil and Russia biased toward gas) and need to coordinate their plays in international energy markets

On the religious front, Russia has actually had a history of relatively peaceful coexistence with Islam.  In 1905 there were 5 million Jews in Russia and 13 million Muslims.  Although Muslims were not exactly welcomed into the circles of power, they suffered nothing like the officially-sanctioned discrimination against Jews or popular hatred as expressed in pogroms.  In fact, southern Muslim tribes provided some of the tsar's most loyal troops up until the end of the empire.

Of course, the spread of radical Islam is a wild card globally, altering the current of history everywhere it emerges as a political force.  

Offline rudy3

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2013, 09:39:25 AM »
Returning to the title of this thread.

This spring/summer I visited St. Petersburg seven times. That is the advantage of living in Finland, St. Petersburg is close. These days even closer: the new Allegro train brings you in 3,5 hours from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. But, yes, you need a visa.
The early morning train, departure 6.12 am costs only 40 euros 2nd class, all other departures some 90 euros

St. Peter Line's Ms Princess Maria leaves every second day Helsinki for St Petersburg. The ferry takes you overnight there (and the second night back). You can take a one day cruise or even stay one or two nights in St Petersburg without the need for a visa! You pay 25 euro for the city transfer (in stead of a visa). If you stay one night you return on the ms Princess Anastasia that does the route St. Petersburg-Helsinki-Stockholm-Tallinn-St. Petersburg.
Off season the rates are very low for workday departures.

During my visits these months in St Petersburg I was surprised by the huge amount of tourists there, both foreign and Russian. Also in the new cruise terminal at the end of Vasiliostrov-island I noticed every time many big cruise ships (they visit Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn, Copenhagen as well and seem to be very popular these days).

So let's hope tourism in St. Petersburg is going through good times and the income from tourism helps to develop the city more and more.

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2013, 07:50:12 PM »
Has the point people have less money today  to travel for fun come up? Russia had those problems for the last seven good  years I think.   Europe is in a fix as are most places. You have to have a job to travel. I would think travel for tourists  is down world wide travel as a refugee...that is  likely  to be up

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Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Growth of tourism in St Petersburg halted
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2015, 04:23:47 PM »
Perhaps this thread needs to be renamed?!

From Paul Kulikovsky's "Romanov News", No. 90, September 2015

St. Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great, has been named the best tourist destination in Europe by the prestigious World Travel Awards Europe, according to the organization's site.

The key factors in the city's success were century-old traditions, a rich history and its great tourist potential. Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Venice, Lisbon, Florence, Edinburgh, Istanbul, London, Porto, Berlin and the UK county of Yorkshire were all competing this year for the award. All the winners of the organization's European travel prizes will participate in the World Travel Awards world final in Morocco on Dec. 12. The World Travel Awards has been honoring organizations and companies that excel in the development of the tourist industry for 22 years.


The State Hermitage, founded by Catherine the Great, was voted as a top ten museum in the world according to the largest international portal for travelers. Awards of "Choices" are given to the best tourist destinations of the world according to the analysis of million reviews and opinions of visitors. To determine the winners is used an algorithm that takes into account the quality and the number of comments about the museums around the world, collected within 12 months.
Among the Russians was Hermitage Museum acknowledged as the best, second place went to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and as top three this year came the State Russian Museum.

« Last Edit: October 06, 2015, 04:28:50 PM by Inok Nikolai »
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