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WEF as a platform for the development of inbound tourism in Primorye
EastRussia expert on the possible practical impact of the forum on tourism in the region
The fifth Eastern Economic Forum was held in Vladivostok. During the WEF, participants signed 270 agreements for a record amount of 3,4 trillion rubles. However, it is rather difficult to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of such a large-scale event for the Primorsky Territory: the forum is focused on the development of the Far East as a whole, in addition, participants discussed cooperation in many areas, which does not allow focusing on a specific and “tangible” result. To assess the practical impact of the past forum, you need to look at its impact on a narrow branch of the economy, for example, tourism, which is one of the drivers of Primorye development.
Roman Tarantula Entrepreneur, member of the Russian Geographical Society
Initiatives submitted to the forum regarding the development of coastal tourism can be divided into three groups. The first is statements and discussions of a strategic nature, which indicate the general directions of development of the industry, and if they come to life, then not in the coming years. This, for example, is a statement by the Governor of Primorye Oleg Kozhemyako that Vladivostok can compete for the right to host the 2036 Summer Olympics. Achieving such an ambitious goal will undoubtedly provide a significant influx of tourists into the region. For example, over 17 million people visited the Olympic Park during the 1,4 days of the winter games in Sochi.
However, if the holding of the Summer Olympics in Vladivostok due to the lack of the necessary sports infrastructure seems doubtful, then the proposal to build a congress and exhibition center in the region seems quite feasible. According to the estimates of the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia Sergey Katyrin, the need to create a specialized exhibition venue is due to the fact that on average in developed countries, 1,5% of GDP falls on congress activity, while in Russia this figure is only 0,2%. Vladivostok in this regard will become a convenient platform for interaction with partners from the Asia-Pacific countries.
The second group of initiatives put forward by the WEF can be attributed to the information-support agreements reached, the result of which will appear in the medium term. So, for example, at the WEF, between the Primorsky and Kamchatka territories, the Sakhalin region and Chukotka, an agreement was signed on comprehensive cooperation in the field of cruise tourism. The document provides for the creation of new routes, joint support and promotion of cruise travel products, including the popularization of the joint Far Eastern tourist brand Pacific Russia in Russian and foreign markets.
During the WEF, an agreement was also signed between the tourist information center (TIC) of the Primorsky Territory and the Association of TIC of the Far East on the launch of an analogue of the coastal “striped navigator” in other subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District.
“Striped Navigator” is a free city mobile tourist information service developed by ANO “Tourist Information Center of Primorsky Territory”. The project was launched in June 2019. It is based on attracting volunteers who speak foreign languages and offer their own help to tourists, as well as printed materials with information about tourist routes, attractions, emergency services, etc. In two months of operation, the striped navigator supported more than 500 foreign tourists.
The third group of WEF agreements in the field of tourism consists of practical agreements, the effect of which the Primorsky Territory will feel in the near future. So, during the forum, the Primorsky Territory administration signed an agreement with the Japanese airline Japan Airlines (JAL), which will begin direct daily flights between Tokyo and Vladivostok in the spring of 2020 on a Boeing-737-800 with a capacity of about 150 people. In addition, another Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA), which had previously announced the start of flights between Tokyo and Vladivostok in 2020, signed an agreement with TIC Primorsky Krai on mutual cooperation. According to the document, the Japanese air carrier undertakes to promote the tourism brand of Primorye.
It is noteworthy that now in the Primorsky Territory, Japanese tourists are the smallest foreign travelers, representing one of the three largest countries in Northeast Asia. So, in 2018, out of 780 thousand inbound tourists, subjects of the Land of the Rising Sun amounted to only 20 thousand people (about 2,5% of the total number of inbound tourists), while the flow of tourists from China and South Korea amounted to 365 and 220 thousand guests, respectively (about 47% and 28%).
Such a serious lag behind Japan from China and South Korea is caused, first of all, by the lack of proper transport links between Japan and the Primorsky Territory. For example, a high tourist flow between the PRC and the Russian Federation is ensured both through regular flights, and thanks to the many land checkpoints that have been working for many years already far beyond their capacity. The Republic of Korea is linked to Primorye by six Korean airlines, which also ensures the maintenance of stable growth in tourist flow.
So far, only the Russian air carriers S7 and Aurora have worked in the Japanese direction, while in the Land of the Rising Sun there is a rather high interest in the tourist product of Primorye. Obviously, it is Japan that remains an inexhaustible resource that can give a tangible increase to the number of foreign tourists visiting the Primorsky Territory. As a result, when Japanese air carriers comply with the agreements signed during the WEF, it is likely that in the 2021 year, Primorsky Krai will visit about 90-100 thousand tourists from Japan.
Thus, the Fifth Eastern Economic Forum will help the development of the tourism industry in the Primorsky Territory. The event outlined strategic goals for the industry, formed directions for development in the medium term, and also involved resources that will contribute to the growth of inbound tourism in the region in the coming years.