The International Travel Expo (ITE) 2016 at Ho Chi Minh City is all geared up to expect an influx of eager exhibitors as well as buyers. Russia is actively represented at the event as it treats this mart as one of the most serious and engaging in south-east Asia. Global Travel Media had a tete-a-tete with Mr Vladimir Chernikov, Head of the Department of National Policy Interregional Relations and Tourism of Moscow, on the eve of the ITE.
It is an established fact that Moscow actively participates in international specialised exhibitions, as the strategy is to promote Russia as a world-class tourist destination with a historical as well as cultural potential. Presence at the ITE demonstrates the importance that Russia accords this market, particularly for Moscow. Chernikov agreed that the Asian region is the most promising in terms of world region tourism development, with tourists from China, Korea and Vietnam having increased in number, particularly from Vietnam: “According to data for the first quarter of 2016, the tourist flow from Vietnam to Moscow rose by 20% as compared to the same period of 2015,” he stated.
Asked about specific tourism strategies for the south-east Asian leisure market, Chernikov said that Moscow is very responsive to the changes in the structure of the tourist flow and creates unique services such as developing new touristic routes like the ‘Red Route,’ taking into account cultural particularities and specific interests of Asian tourists. The significant growth from China, for instance, led to the promotion of the ‘China Friendly’ programme in Moscow, in which hotels and trade centres participated. Furthermore, an international exhibition titled ‘All Colours of Asia’ is to be held in Moscow this autumn, where ten countries of south-east Asia will be represented in works by Russian artists to honour the twentieth anniversary of signing the Russia and ASEAN`s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.
Chernikov averred that tourists have consistently rated the service and quality of sightseeing guides as high, with even participants at the Congress of the European Federation of Guide Associations (FEG) in November 2015 being impressed by the fact that the Moscow Association of Guides, Translators, Docents and Tour Managers conducted the familiarisation tours in all the languages of participating countries instead of just three main ones. Apart from multilingual touristic navigation, tour companies have either the halal or ‘China Friendly’ certification. While safety remains a prime concern among travellers to Moscow, Chernikov stated that the crime rate in the capital city is steadily declining, facilitated by the installation of quality video surveillance systems over the entire city, as also an active tourist police regiment.
Moscow’s tourism department is planning on holding a lot of dialogues with foreign partners at the ITE. “Companies such as Intourist, the hotel Metropol, the THC Izmailovo, Tzar Voyage and City Sightseeing will be participating and showcasing their uniquely designed projects, including all year round excursions across the Moskva River,” said Chernikov.
It is common knowledge that the rouble is facing a critically weakened state at the moment, however, according to Chernikov, this actually makes the MICE sector more attractive for both Russian as well as foreign companies. Moreover, the largest number of congress and exhibition centres are based in Moscow compared to other CIS countries, and it is also important to note that the Russian capital is the most significant transport hub in this space, with direct flights to several European and Asian countries.
Written by : Punam Mohandas