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Prospects for the development of tourism in the Far East

Traveling to the Far East and the Russian North is turning into a fashionable and popular trend, but the potential of these directions is used only to a small part.

KPMG, with the support of MVRiA, conducted a survey among travelers to assess the locations of the Far East and the Arctic in terms of tourist attractiveness. Olga Surikova spoke about the results of the EastRussia survey.

Prospects for the development of tourism in the Far East
Photo: EastRussia

Olga Surikova

Director of the Department of Tax and Legal Consulting of KMPG in Russia and the CIS

Over the past 5 years, travel to the Far East and the Russian North has become a fashionable and popular trend. And although last year the share of the tourist flow in the Far East and the Arctic amounted to 11,8% of the total tourist flow in Russia, for many residents of our country, distant regions still remain undeveloped territories. The first reaction with which such travel is associated: you need to be a very wealthy person to afford such a trip. And this is, perhaps, the most important factor that restrains a tourist when choosing this destination.   

Before the pandemic, the tourist flow in the Far East and the Arctic was steadily growing by 5-7% per year. Confident optimism regarding the development of tourism and the hospitality industry in these territories showed an increase in tour operators in the regions by an average of 15% per year and an increase in the number of CSWs.  

Against the background of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry and a 2020% reduction in the total flow of domestic tourists in Russia by the end of 35, the Far East as a whole lost 76% of tourists, part of the flow of which was traditionally foreigners and business tourists, while the reduction in tourist flow to the Arctic looks less dramatic - 29% compared to 2019. 

At the same time, we noticed that the reduction in tourist flow in the macro-region was not uniform and, with a general reduction, some regions, on the contrary, managed to increase tourist flow and attract new tourists during the tourist season. Thus, 34% of our respondents among industry players working mainly in the Kamchatka Territory, Sakhalin Region and the Republic of Buryatia noted an increase in tourist flow, which was provided due to the flow of tourists from other traditional tourist destinations and the expansion of the target audience, including thanks to travelers choosing more expensive tours. As a result, the winners were the regions with the established well-known brand of the territory.  

At the same time, the lack and underdevelopment of infrastructure did not allow to fully realize the tourist potential of other regions, which led to a significant reduction in the tourist flow in the season of opportunities, and the lack of awareness of domestic destinations for travel in the Far East and the Arctic impeded the expansion of the potential target audience (more than 33% of respondents noted a lack of information on domestic travel destinations).

The main factor in the tourist attraction of the regions of the Far East and the Arctic is incredibly beautiful nature. Tourists also note the unique opportunities for a photo tour of famous locations, interesting cultural attractions, the possibility of active and extreme recreation - the northern lights, gray whales, reindeer herders' camp, protected areas of the Lena pillars and the endless expanses of the Putorana plateau, taiga and petroglyphs, jeep tours to active volcanoes , heli-skiing, ski resorts, trophy fishing, hot springs, gastronomic tours and much more - this is all about the Far East and the unique Arctic. 


At the same time, the trend is a request for eventfulness in the region. The respondents showed interest in distinctive ethnic holidays. However, the respondents noted that the lack of regional and international events does not create compelling reasons to consider the territory as an interesting alternative to traditional directions. 

There is also a strong demand for cruise tourism. Cruises are considered by tourists as a convenient, comfortable and at the same time non-standard travel format that allows you to get unusual impressions and have time to visit and be inspired by the history and original culture and nature of several locations. 

As for the tour itself, the majority of respondents answered that they prefer to choose a standard package to the Far East and the Arctic, since the underdevelopment of transport infrastructure and roadside services, lack of clear navigation and communication, remoteness and inaccessibility of attractions make it difficult to independently organize a trip. 

For most tourists, a check for a trip to the Far East and the Arctic ranges from 21 to 100 thousand rubles per person. At the same time, the Far East is a more expensive destination: 22% of respondents spent more than 100 thousand rubles on a trip to the Far East, while 33% of respondents who visited the Arctic, on the contrary, spent about 20 thousand rubles. 

In general, in order to change the market of tourist services in the Far East and the Arctic and to maintain the interest of Russian tourists in these areas when the borders open, it is necessary to pay attention to the following areas requiring development:  

1. Accessibility of travel, including through subsidized tickets and tourist cashback;

2. Tourist service and tourist infrastructure, including in the segment of ecological and high-quality offer;

3. Transport hubs and road infrastructure network;

4. Small aircraft for the availability of display points;

5. Cruise net on comfortable ships;

6. Tourist products in the field of event tourism, including through the popularization of ethnic holidays and the organization of large-scale international events;

7. Tourist image of the Far East and Arctic regions and communication channels.

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