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Moscow got 3.6 million tourists last year, Indians 3rd largest group: Evgeny Kozlov, Chairman, Moscow City Tourism Committee

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 06, Oct 2023, 16:00 pm IST | UPDATED: 06, Oct 2023, 19:00 pm IST

Moscow got 3.6 million tourists last year, Indians 3rd largest group: Evgeny Kozlov, Chairman, Moscow City Tourism Committee

New Delhi:
And if you thought that war not just discourages travel & Tourism you may be wrong. Despite a Ukraine Russia war that has been going on for the last 20 months Russians are promoting tourism in India as well as in other parts of the world.  

During the recent Business + Leisure Travel and MICE 2023 (BLTM 2023) event in New Delhi, my online interview with The Moscow City Tourism Committee Chairman Evgeny Kozlov, who was in India's national capital.

Excerpts:  

1. What has been the inbound & outbound tourism statistics post covid?

Moscow is implementing many initiatives at once to increase its tourist attractiveness. This year we brought the tourist flow to 90% of what it was before the pandemic. Almost 1 million foreign tourists came to Moscow in the first half of 2023. Over 600 thousand people over the summer alone. The leader in tourist traffic among non-CIS countries was China. Also in the top are Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and India. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, there was an annual increase of 12-15 percent in the number of tourists from India. Fortunately, we are now making strides towards recovery, as all necessary conditions have been established.

2. What steps has Moscow Tourism taken to make tourism industry inviting & attractive in 2022-23? Other than e visa facility what other measures are planned to ease the procedure of arrival and stay & travel in Russia?
    
On August 1, 2023 Russia has introduced e-visa. According to the results of the first month only, more than 30 thousand tourists used it. The validity period of an e-visa is 60 days from the date of its issuance. You can stay with it in Russia for 16 days. An e-visa has several advantages over a traditional visa. To obtain it, you do not need to go to consulates or embassies, and the only documents required are a digital photograph of your face and a scan of the page with your passport data. The e-visa is available for citizens of 55 countries, including India.

Moreover, we are developing joint initiatives with other regions of Russia to provide a potential tourist with as many options as possible. The Moscow+ interregional travel framework fosters cooperation and joint travel packages. There are programs that include visiting Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Kazan, and the Moscow Region is already underway. These include new routes, special offers, and useful digital products. Visiting several cities in one trip is popular even among foreign tourists. The development of Moscow-Kazan cooperation manifested itself in the Two Capitals of One Horizon project.

3. Do you have any special offers to attract & invite tourists or travel writers?

Moscow is the capital of Russia, it's an absolute must see if you want to visit the largest country in the world. Moscow is notable for its versatility. Today, the city offers a high-tech, accessible, and comfortable environment for every tourist. Moscow's Government employs a human-centered approach to creating infrastructure and services for the citizens. All services are available day and night, be it ordering takeout or custom seam stressing. The Russian capital offers various services and attractions for all kinds of visitors: families with children, business travelers, or older people. We have plenty of offerings for every category of tourists.

The most popular tourist attractions (must see) are: Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow Kremlin, Bolshoi Theatre, Gorky Park, Kolomenskoye, Pushkin Museum, Arbat Street, GUM Department Store.

On August 31, Moscow City Tourism Committee launched the project “Russian holidays: From the capital of Russia to the capital of Siberia” aimed at a B2B audience. As part of the project, Indian travelers will have the opportunity to discover the beautiful sights of Moscow and the mysteries of Siberia, explore the Siberian capital, Tyumen, soak in thermal springs, and try local cooking.


4. Business having taken a big hit since the war how has business tourism changed over the past years?

Over the past year, about 3.6 million people visited the capital for business purposes (both international and domestic tourists). Business tourists account for one fifth of all tourist traffic to Moscow. At the same time, about 40% of all business tourists return to the city with family or friends. This year, the trend continued in the first quarter, India was in third place among visitors from abroad in terms of the number of business travelers. Indians are third most numerous group among foreign business tourists to Moscow outside CIS countries.

The Moscow City Tourism Committee and NIMA (Association of MICE Agencies of India) jointly launched the Moscow MICE ?mbassadors program just this year. In 2024, the program is expected to expand with four waves of 50 participants each, resulting in a total of 200 Moscow MICE Ambassadors by the end of the year.

Together with that we brought 17 Moscow companies to BLTM in order to establish a broad cooperation with our Indian counterparts and also to inform Indian business about the touristic opportunities they could endeavour in Moscow. We exchanged contacts, had a series of highly promising meetings and expect to find new ways, new methods of cooperation.

We place a certain emphasis on business tourism – working with travel agencies. This can create a steady high flow of tourists to the city. We see India as one of the most perspective to promote Moscow as a touristic destination. Our participation in BLTM is just one of a number of our approaches.

Moreover, on October 6, Moscow will host the international conference Meet Global MICE Congress for the first time. The participants will be 250 representatives of the business tourism industry. The conference will bring together professionals from 14 countries - India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries (the most numerous delegations are from India and China). Meet Global MICE Congress will become one of the key platforms for MICE-industry and will promote dialog and interaction between representatives of Moscow and foreign tour industries. One of the goals of the event is to present Moscow to the international MICE community as an attractive place for organizing successful business events of various sizes.

5. What measures have you taken for sustainable tourism?

Our initiatives in this direction do not deal exclusively with business tourism or tourism alone. All our initiatives are part of large-scale systemic plans. Moscow has the world's largest forest in an urban area within its borders. About 50 percent of Moscow's territory is covered by greenery, making it one of the greenest cities on the planet. The city authorities are actively engaged in the restoration of natural areas within the city. Last year alone, emissions of CO2 were 36,000 lower, and pollutants - 280 tons lower in the city.

Various types of electric transport are available to the capital's guests - from eco-friendly electric buses to carsharing and taxi services with electric cars. As of the end of 2022, electric buses transported over 117 million people. Since this year, electric river ferries have been running along the Moskva River. Hotels and restaurants are trying to get away from using non-recyclable packaging. Tour operator and airline websites provide information on flights with the lowest emissions. Moscow is one of the most advanced cities in terms of implementing sustainable development practices, and I hope our guests will be able to appreciate this on their next visit to our city.
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