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Touristic confusion swept the Far East

Some regions of the Far Eastern Federal District are formally ready to accept tourists, but in reality they are not open to them.

The tourism industry of the Far East has developed rapidly in recent years. Now, due to the closure of borders, the government expects an increase in demand for domestic tourist destinations among Russians from all over the country. However, the introduction of quarantine restrictions paralyzed industry in most regions of the Far East. This casts doubt on the statements of officials at various levels that the Far Eastern Federal District should compete with the resorts of Crimea and the Kuban.

Touristic confusion swept the Far East


The load of the Moscow-Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk flight now stands at 25-30%, each passenger has two or three seats. If earlier in mid-June, passengers completely bought seats in two wide-bodied bodies a day, then this summer the plane is one and half empty.

Upon arrival, verification activities begin. First, check documents (passport and fresh COVID certificate) at the entrance to the terminal. People are started in two threads, but the procedure still takes half an hour. Then - rapid testing on a blood sample. Everything is on the conveyor - a minute per person. Then filling out the documents: a prescription, consent to the processing of personal data. Then the procedure of photography, together with the issued prescription for 14-day isolation - not everyone is given the first time: remove the mask, stand upright, hold the prescription in your hand just below the chin.

After these procedures, local residents can go out, and those who do not have a Sakhalin registration are waiting for registration through the Agency for Labor and Employment of the Population of the Sakhalin Region. In order for this department to authorize the exit from the airport, a pre-issued electronic pass must be on hand, as well as an employment contract with a company registered in Sakhalin. Most of the problems for visitors appear precisely at this stage. There is a direct demand of the governor - except for relatives and people hired from the mainland by the Sakhalin business, no one is expected in the island region.

Formally, self-isolation on Sakhalin has been lifted, but tourists are not expected there - they have so far been denied entry. No one is ready to name the dates for the opening of the tourist season - everything will depend on the epidemiological situation. At the same time, Governor Valery Limarenko in one of the interviews threatened to keep the regime entry to the islands until vaccination, whenever it took place.

A similar situation has developed in Kamchatka. Entrance is allowed only to three categories of citizens: those who have local registration or own real estate, those who are going to perform labor duties, and those who follow transit, for example, to Chukotka. All entrants will have to spend 14 days in isolation. The action of this order has already been extended until July 15. And no tourism.



According to a VTsIOM survey, every third Russian plans to take a vacation this summer (31%). At the same time, about 61% of the country's residents want to spend it at home, and only 4% are going to go abroad. At the same time, in 2019, 13% of Russians had a rest abroad.

Among the reasons some residents of Russia will remain at home are the lack of finances (36%), coronavirus, self-isolation and closed borders (25%). This year, 29% of Russians have changed their initial vacation plans this year, the main reason for the changes is the coronavirus pandemic (70%).

“During the crisis, people are worried about the rise in their well-being, so many this year will not have time to travel. Many have lost business, work, earnings have decreased, so people will want to sit at home and save money. The tourism industry will recover for some time, ”explains Tatyana Solodovnikova, commercial director of the Bilet company.

In her opinion, with the removal of restrictions, the opening of all recreation centers and the presence of good weather, Primorye may well satisfy domestic tourist demand for residents of the Far East. Coronovirus can provoke a surge in the popularity of Primorsky Krai resorts among tourists of the Far Eastern Federal District.

As for recreation outside the Far East, so far the Far East can only rely on travels in Russia. According to some forecasts, the opening of the Russian borders is possible only in 2021, but the Federal Tourism Agency reports that from July 1, 67 regions of Russia will be ready to accept tourists.

“Khakassia, Buryatia and Altai have already connected, traveling in these directions will also find their tourist, as we hope. They were in the range of offers before, but not so in demand.
In connection with the current situation with the borders of the Asian region, the inhabitants of Primorye have finally recalled the central part of Russia, are interested in tours of the Golden Ring, to St. Petersburg, Kizhi.
Due to the high cost of flights, Crimea and southern destinations are still not in great demand, ”Olga Alekseeva said.

However, it is not known to what extent the Far East will be able to take advantage of the traditional vacation season. There are not so many flights as in the usual tourist season, but there are many restrictions: if resort towns gradually remove restrictions for tourists, then after returning home, you still have to leave for self-isolation, and this prospect discourages many people from leaving.



So far, hotels, restaurants and camp sites in most regions of the Far Eastern Federal District are closed. Tourist companies themselves also for the most part do not officially work. In some regions, although they removed the mandatory two-week quarantine for visitors, all the entertainment venues, theaters, and circuses do not work.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the Far East is Primorye. Konstantin Shestakov, deputy chairman of the regional government, notes that preparations for the opening of the tourist season are in full swing.

“The tourism sector of the region has not been fully working since the beginning of the high-availability regime, that is, from the second half of March. Considering that about 45 thousand people work in the industry, it is extremely important for the regional government to restore the work of enterprises as soon as the epidemic situation allows. But we have already begun preparations for the opening. We are currently preparing the classification hotels to resume operations. Of the 94 such hotels, 80 have already been monitored for compliance with the recommendations of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, the remaining ones should eliminate the shortcomings in the near future, ”said Konstantin Shestakov.

According to the deputy chairman, if the increased regime is canceled in the region, hotels will be able to start work. Then, next in line is the resumption of recreation centers, the opening of beaches, cafes and restaurants. Of course, all this will be carried out in compliance with sanitary safety measures, which imply some restrictions regarding the normal mode of operation. The authorities of the Primorsky Territory expect that the region this season will primarily be popular with local travelers.

“This year, the first guests of coastal hotels and resorts will be residents of the Primorsky Territory, then residents of other regions of Russia. And after the opening of the border, we are waiting for foreign tourists. It’s hard to say when this will happen, so we expect that the main tourist flow this year will be domestic.

In the meantime, the uncertainty caused by the epidemic does not prevent tourism enterprises from planning their activities for the coming months.

“We are very pleased that we have officially authorized travels in the Primorsky Territory, so we are beginning to actively prepare routes and programs in Vladivostok and Primorye. In general, we look into the future all the same positively. But the whole industry is on standby, directions are being reassessed and new routes are being developed taking into account all circumstances, ”said Olga Alekseeva, director of tourism development at the Frigate Aero travel agency.

However, according to Tatyana Solodovnikova, the main difficulty now is that due to the suspension of the activities of official companies, offers from the “gray” and “black” players poured into the market, to which the “officials” obviously began to give up their share.

“A huge number of individuals sell tours, trips and excursions at the Instagram level. All this negatively affects the internal state of tourism managers and employees. The current situation raises more questions than answers, ”said Tatyana Solodovnikova.


The vice-governor of Primorsky Krai Konstantin Shestakov said that the region has adjusted programs to attract tourists from external to domestic tourism, and has already launched an active advertising campaign in social networks and the media, focused mainly on the youth audience of the Far East.

“As soon as the time becomes clear when the accommodation facilities for tourists can resume work, we will increase the amount of information support. But all this will become possible only when the epidemic situation allows, ”said Konstantin Shestakov.

The fact that each region of Russia is actively preparing to promote its territory on the domestic market is eloquently testified by the data of the public procurement portal. The number of budget tenders for information services, info tours and family tours has increased rapidly. In June alone, the Yakutia National Tourist Information Center concludes three agreements with three sole suppliers, one million rubles each, Karelia sends 6,4 million rubles to a press tour for Russian bloggers, Perm Territory sells 2,6 million rubles to promote the region, The Moscow region raffles off five million rubles for an information campaign. Buryatia held a bid for two million rubles for the event on the presentation of tourist potential to bloggers, media and tour operators, the Stavropol Territory - ten million rubles for advertising and informational publications, the Krasnoyarsk Territory - one million rubles for about the same purpose.

The federal center is also rapidly investing. Thus, Rostourism held a series of tenders focused on the information promotion of Russian regions. A distinctive feature of these procurement procedures was dumping: the tender for the creation of creative concepts and videos lost 80% in price (it was auctioned off for 2,7 million with a starting 13,8 million). And the tender for holding press tours to the regions of Russia (in which among the nine target regions there was no place for any Far Eastern or Arctic) led to a drop in prices more than double - from 14 to 6,8 million rubles.

It would seem that there is nothing unusual or shameful in this activity of the regions; this is a common practice, which has been conducted from year to year. However, the current situation threatens to turn into real battles of regional budgets for domestic tourists. At the same time, the lack of centralized coordination of information activity may well create a risk of resale in one direction or another, which, in turn, will lead to a decrease in the quality of tourist services and an inefficient waste of funds.

“It is impossible to produce the same economic result for six months without the increase in capacity that the regions showed for the full year,” says one of the experts surveyed by EastRussia. - The logic of the regions that have encountered a falling flow of foreign tourists, especially those in which this share was significant, is clear. These regions need to be helped to compensate for the difference; in the Far East, this is Primorye and Buryatia. For the rest, this information battle for the tourist runs the risk of turning into wasted money and zilch. ”

This opinion is supported by the representative of the Far Eastern Regional Tourism Association, Valentina Aseeva. In her opinion, the current situation with closed borders can really provoke an increase in the tourist flow in the macroregion by about 20-30%. However, in Primorye, Sakhalin and Kamchatka, the tourist infrastructure is not as developed as in the popular foreign resorts, which can frighten off vacationers.  

“Now there are many tours in Russia at affordable prices. Recently, discounted airline tickets have arrived on the market not only in such traditional destinations as the Kuban or Crimea, but also between the cities of the Far Eastern Federal District. Of course, closing borders can popularize domestic tourism. True, do not forget that traveling around Russia usually accounted for 25-30% of the trips of our compatriots. So the question is - where will all these people be placed? After all, hotels in the holiday season were not enough before, ”said Valentina Asseva.

Employees of the mountain-sports base "Snow Valley" in Kamchatka already note increased interest from tourists. However, the region will not be able to receive guests until the second half of July.

“The regime of self-isolation in Kamchatka has been extended until July 15, so the work of the tourism sector is now paused. Meanwhile, we are actively booking rooms and sightseeing tours for the coming months. Moreover, calls from customers arrive more than usual. We predict an increase in tourist flow this season by about 20-30%, ”EastRussia told the mountain sports base.

Sakhalin became one of the first regions of the Far East, where they removed the regime of self-isolation, remaining closed to the external environment. Representatives of the Sakhalin tourism sector note that many residents of the island region would like to go on vacation in Primorye, where the season is just about to begin.

“Winter holidays on Sakhalin are very popular among tourists. But in the summer, residents of the Far East go to rest on the coast of the Primorsky Territory. While it is difficult for our tourists to get to Primorye because of quarantine, we are already booking tours of the region for August. There are a lot of people wishing to relax in the Far East this season, ”the Morning Tour travel agency said.   

According to economist Elena Berezhnova, the situation in tourism industry today is much worse than it seems at first glance.

“The situation in the tourism industry is now difficult. Moreover, all attempts by the state to reorient the industry exclusively to domestic tourism will not save the situation. I believe that the industry will suffer billions in losses, because here the interconnected economies will suffer along the chain - catering, transport, the hotel sector. By the end, the domestic regional product will fall quite strongly. In addition, many enterprises have been loaned or leased new vehicles. The business has already formed huge debts, ”the economist summed up.   

September 29: current information on coronavirus in the Far East
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