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Scale Factor for Far Eastern Tourism

EastRussia expert on the problems of attracting tourists to the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District

Scale Factor for Far Eastern Tourism

Moses Furshchik

Managing Partner, FOK Company

It is believed that the key problem for the development of tourism in the Far East is the lack of infrastructure, however, many tourist facilities are located in large cities that already have acceptable airports and modern hotels. But even they do not feel the huge influx of tourists.

Theoretically, for budget money, you can build roads and bring networks to other potentially attractive destinations. But will this be enough to multiply the tourist flow? Most likely no.

The main problem is that due to the great remoteness of the Far East, a tourist is unlikely to go there for the sake of a single object, no matter how good the infrastructure is. And the local population is too small to form a significant tourist flow. Therefore, Far Eastern destinations should be interesting, at least for a week's stay. But what about this aspect now?

The most obvious objects for a multi-day stay are ski resorts and balneological resorts. But almost all Far Eastern ski centers have relatively few slopes, and rest in sanatoriums is too boring. At the same time, a modern mass tourist requires much more variety. Therefore, from far away for the sake of skiing tourism, the Far East mainly flies a narrow layer of freeride lovers, and for recreational purposes - rather specific and small categories of patients. Moreover, this rarely happens in the family format, which is currently the most interesting for the tourism industry.

Natural objects are also not very ready to receive a mass tourist. And here the offer for the tourist is most often limited to a one-day inspection.

But even if some territory (for example, the regional capital and its environs) has a significant number of different destinations and leisure options, then this is not a complex product. It often happens that it is difficult for a tourist to deal with the movement between objects that are not connected by clear, convenient and inexpensive logistics schemes. In addition, a similar set of objects and services is rarely promoted on a federal and international scale as a comprehensive product that provides a varied vacation for several days of stay. Most often, the knowledge of distant potential tourists about such a territory is limited to one or two of the most popular destinations.

In this sense, the behavior of people coming to the Far East for business purposes is very characteristic. In principle, such tourists there are not so few. But only a very small part of them, after a business trip, again comes to the appropriate region with their family for a vacation, etc. But such a short stay should create a positive impression on visitors of the region, arouse a desire to independently see the sights, relax in the resorts . But now the vast majority of business tourists in the Far East believe that they have already managed to inspect all the most interesting things on the run, so it makes no sense to go this far again for their own money. And in this way one of the most important potential channels for promoting local tourism products fails.

Therefore, the key task for the development of the tourism industry in the Far East is the formation of large clusters. Moreover, this should not be a formal process, when a random set of existing objects, travel agencies, educational organizations and government agencies is simply called the buzzword “cluster” and a rather abstract program for its development is adopted.

A serious approach implies, in addition to a sharp activation of marketing, large-scale capital construction. And not only infrastructure, but also directly tourist facilities: locations, new ski slopes, entertainment and ethnographic complexes, modern interactive museums. In many cases, it is important to purchase small aircraft, small cruise liners, comfortable buses or special vehicles.

Unfortunately, it is very rare to find one large investor in a project to form a large-scale cluster that will close all issues. And in many cases, after realizing this fact, regional authorities give up. They freeze in anticipation of a miracle. And they complain to questions about their passivity that there is a promising topic in the region, but there is no investor yet. This is allowed to regularly print colorful booklets and attend exhibitions, but rarely leads to real results.

And in this situation, the regional authorities need to show not passivity, but optimism, a willingness to invest in the future and negotiating talents. It is advisable to bring such an integrated project from an idea to at least a detailed concept (master plan), solve land issues and achieve a clear understanding of the infrastructure. In this form, the project can already be seriously discussed with potential investors.

Moreover, it is important that the conversation should be conducted not only with big business, but also with local SMEs. Of course, each of them individually will not be able to solve the problem of attracting tourists to the region. But within the framework of a complex project, they may well make out its key components and, by joint efforts, form the necessary variety of objects. At the same time, each of the entrepreneurs will remain independent in relation to property and business management. But their interaction within the framework of a comprehensive project will give a powerful synergistic effect. And no less important factor will be the fact that the region guarantees the solution of infrastructure issues. That is, the infrastructure is very significant, but secondary to the content of the cluster project.

By the way, it is in this format that almost all large resorts, for example, in Japan, are created and operate in the format of “Designer from SMEs”. Moreover, they are presented to vacationers as a single complex.

And when a sufficiently large-scale project is formed in this way, it becomes quite realistic to receive serious federal funds under the sectoral program (at least hundreds of million rubles). In the meantime, the successes of the Far Eastern regions in this direction are not very great. Apart from the recently annexed Buryatia, within the framework of the federal target program "Development of domestic and inbound tourism in the Russian Federation" (2011-2018), which ended last year, the Far Eastern Federal District received less than 7% of the total funding. And this despite the huge local distances and the need for infrastructure! Moreover, only three of the nine Far Eastern regions took part in the program.

Picture. Far East in total federal budget expenditures under the federal target program "Development of domestic and inbound tourism" (2011-2018)

Nevertheless, certain positive processes in the described direction still go. For example, within the framework of the Mountain Air Top in Sakhalin, a fairly large-scale ski cluster is being formed. And the development of the Kamchatka ASEZ and the free port regime suggest the transformation of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky into a serious tourist hub, around which both existing and new facilities should line up.

But a successful tourist cluster is not only a variety of specialized objects and high-quality logistics. No less important is the overall urban environment of the base settlement. And this applies not only to regional capitals, but also to small resort centers. A tourist who has arrived for a few days wants to walk along the beautiful streets or promenades, sit in modern cafes, look into shops with attractive display cases. And here, too, there are specialized federal programs, but the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District are not leaders in participating in them.

Thus, if in the Far East complex, modern and all-season tourist products are formed with an orientation at least for a weekly mass rest, then people will be drawn here. And the price factor then will not be so critical.

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