Russia enters list of top 10 travel destinations

This year representatives of some 15 regions including St. Petersburg and Moscow presented their latest offers, hotels and hot destinations on the Russian stand at the WTM. Source: Tatiana Rubleva

This year representatives of some 15 regions including St. Petersburg and Moscow presented their latest offers, hotels and hot destinations on the Russian stand at the WTM. Source: Tatiana Rubleva

UNWTO praises Russia for hard work in attracting tourists at the World Travel Market expo in London.

Russia’s influence in the world tourist market is growing, as it enters the top 10 most popular tourist destinations in the world. That is according to Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the World Tourist Organisation (UNWTO) who participated in the opening of the Russian stand at the World Travel Market expo in London.

“Last year 26 million foreign tourists visited Russia. It is now the world’s number 9 most popular tourist destination. It is a result of hard work, including work on a political level”, he said. Other countries on the top-10 most visited countries list include France, USA, China, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, UK and Malaysia.

According to the head of UNWTO, the growth of tourism into Russia could even further benefit from softening the visa regime and cancelling visa requirements for transit passengers of up to 3 days. The bill is currently being mulled over by the Russian parliament.

“We are also anxiously waiting for the Sochi Olympics, which is incredibly important not just for sports, but also for tourism”, says Mr Rifai.

Russia’s Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko, as well as the Head of Russia’s Tourism Agency Alexander Radkov both emphasized the importance of softening the visa regime. “If not cancelled altogether, it should at least be softened for tourist trips”, said Radkov. He pointed out that because of the issues with the British visa, some members of the Russian delegation were unable to attend the expo.

But despite the visa barriers, the number of participants from Russia at the WTM is growing each year, according to the Ambassador. This time representatives of some 15 regions including St. Petersburg and Moscow presented their latest offers, hotels and hot destinations on the Russian stand.

The Russian capital is also preparing for a tourist boom. Moscow is awaiting a significant influx of travellers who plan to stop in the capital on their way to see the Olympics. Sergey Shpilko, the head of the Moscow Tourism Committee, says no matter how many people are coming, all visitors will be taken care of. “We prepare to meet the people at the airports and railway stations, we are training the volunteers. Along with existing tourist information centres, we plan to open several new ones in Moscow’s major airports”, says Shpilko.

Tourists will have plenty of ways to see the capital even on a brief stopover with transit tours around Moscow lasting from half day to 3-day packages. Mr Shpilko also promised hotel accommodation at record low prices: “You can find a hostel room starting at 650 rubles, a 2-star hotel at 750 and a 3-star accommodation starting at 1500rubles. These are standard European prices”, says the official.

The World Travel Market exhibition takes place at theExCel exhibition centre in East London and lasts for 4 days. With some 5,000 participants from 184 countries it is the world’s largest event of this kind.

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