Saint Petersburg continues to be one of the most demanded tourist destinations

31 December 2020

Despite a difficult year for the tourism industry, the Northern Capital does not cease to gain worldwide recognition and maintain a leading position among tourist destinations in Russia. The city is working on new routes for Russian and international tourists, while continuing to implement programs to attract them.

Due to the active joint work of the city authorities and the tourism business in the domestic market, Saint Petersburg was able to neutralize the drop in tourist traffic and industry revenues, «winning back» 20% in the domestic market, as a result, the overall decline in indicators was about 70% in 2020. It was possible to smooth out the consequences of the pandemic and the corresponding restrictions due to new safety standards, and programs to promote and participate in tourist cashback program from Rostourism. According to the results of summing up the results of the second stage of the cashback program, the city is in 5th place in terms of the total cost of bookings. Saint Petersburg was also among the leaders of the cities where Russians have most often flown or traveled by train this summer.

This year Saint Petersburg also became the first city in Russia to join the international movement to ensure safe tourism and recreation - Safe Travels, receiving a separate city sign «Safe Travels SPB - Safe and hospitable Saint Petersburg». The hospitality industry of Saint Petersburg complied with all the necessary security measures developed by Rospotrebnadzorand Rostourism for the summer season.

According to the head of Rostourism ZarinaDoguzova: «The tourism industry of SaintPetersburg this year has rallied in the face of an unprecedented crisis. There are many losses, and the city faces a difficult process of rebuilding the hospitality industry. But even in spite of all the difficulties, Saint Petersburg was able to launch the season, win in prestigious international tourism competitions, implement a number of striking projects in a new hybrid format and, in general, find a strategy for further development through the new tourist geography of the city, combining cultural, educational, environmental and other new types of tourism, as well as through access to the concept of the city as a gateway to the Russian North, or what the industry calls the Silver Necklace of the country. Together with the team of Saint Petersburg next year, we are ready to restart the industry in the city, taking into account the new strategy and meanings».

In addition, Saint Petersburg was the first in the country to develop a package of unprecedented measures to support the tourism industry. With the development of the second wave of the pandemic, the Saint Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development has developed a number of proposals for new tax incentives. According to the measures taken, for 2020 - 2021 hotels, sanatorium-resort organizations and travel companies, as well as transport companies that carry out bus transportation on a regular or ordered basis, are exempted from the main regional taxes. New measures were taken on December 23rd. Together with direct financial support in the form of loans provided by the city government on December 28, the total amount of support will be about 4 billion rubles.

In the development of the trend for safe travels in 2020, the city on the Neva has attracted the general attention of the Russian and world expert community of the travel industry by holding a series of events adapted to the restrictions associated with the pandemic. The Saint Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development held events in a hybrid format with controlled logistics, allowing to control the flow of spectators; used several locations while broadcasting them online. The first such event was the «Hospitable Saint Petersburg. Inimitable charm», dedicated to the celebration of the World Tourism Day in the city. Thus, Saint Petersburg did not abandon most of the planned events, but changed their format, moving one part of them in time, and the other in new forms and online.

«Now, when international borders are closed, and offline attendance is limited, we have taken the path of broad coverage of city events on official resources, on social networks, the Internet space, TV broadcasts and on all possible modern media. This is often the only opportunity to become spectators of our holidays and festivals for both foreign citizens and many Russian citizens. The lessons of the pandemic were not in vain. We have learned to position event tourism in Saint Petersburg on the Internet. Any event that has taken place on a grand scale in the network creates a wide international resonance and forms a deferred demand», - comments the Chairman of the Committee Sergey Korneev. The latest event has already had more than 1 million views on the Internet from about 80 countries.

As a result, the Saint Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development and the Convention and Exhibition Bureau were awarded the Russian Business Travel & MICE Award for conducting business events in the online format and for the successful implementation of the ambassador program.

And in November, Saint Petersburg became the owner of one of the most prestigious awards in the world in the field of world tourism World Travel Awards in the category «World Leading Cultural Destination». Also, the winners of the Russian Event Awards 2020 National Prize in the field of event tourism were such projects as the Maslenitsa 2.0 Festival, which won first place as the Best Travel Event for Popularization of Folk Traditions and Crafts, the Unified Calendar of Saint Petersburg Events 2020, which received a Grand Prixin the nomination «The best regional calendar of tourist events». Saint Petersburg pays special attention to the development of one of the principal directions for regional tourism - gastronomic. On December 18-20, 2020, in the New Year's capital of Russia, Kaluga, the Festival of gastronomic tourism «New Year's Kitchen of Russia» was held, which became a pilot project of the Federal Agency for Tourism. Following the event, Saint Petersburg was also awarded a diploma for presenting the city's gastronomic opportunities. The Grand Prix of the festival was won by the head-cook from Saint Petersburg Marina Naumova (chef Marusia) for cooking traditional dishes of Saint Petersburg cuisine.

Saint Petersburg is already working on a strategy to attract tourists next year. For this, the Northern Capital is conducting a large-scale information campaign to attract guests not only from the regions of Russia, but also subsequently from foreign ones. Including taking into account the revolutionary decision of the President and the Government of the Russian Federation on the introduction in 2021 throughout Russia of the mechanism of a Single electronic visa to visit our country.

And also develops and implements the program «New cultural and tourist geography of Saint Petersburg», which includes all the potential of the city and was created to further stimulate multiple visits to Saint Petersburg in any season. In particular, the city is actively involved in the development of the Silver Necklace of Russia program, which makes it an attractive travel hub for the project's routes.

«We are grateful to the entire Rostourism team and personally to ZarinaDoguzova for daily support and teamwork almost round the clock online. Rosturizm, the Government of the Russian Federation supported the request of Saint Petersburg to include the city's tourist offers already at the first stage in the cashback program, and then to postpone the program for the whole of 2021, and this, among other things, helped the city's industry to return part of the losses incurred in August and September 2020, and the tourists were given an incentive to once again evaluate the multifaceted tourist opportunities of Saint Petersburg. New projects of Saint Petersburg tourism companies supported by the grant program of the Federal Tourism Agency have shown that even during a pandemic, creative ideas of business leaders are in demand, it is possible and necessary to launch startups and think about development. We are confident that after the pandemic weakened with the support of Rostourism, it is Saint Petersburg that can become one of the best examples in our country and the world of how important tourism is for the regions and for the restoration of a huge number of industries and spheres of activity associated with the hospitality industry. I wish all of us new energy and optimism in our active joint work to restore and develop our industry in 2021. Tourism gives people new impressions, new knowledge and new incentives for work and life»,commented Sergey Korneev, head of the Saint Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development.

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Saint Petersburg is a recognized world tourist destination and one of the most popular travel destinations in Russia.In 2019-2020, with the support of the city administration and the Government of the Russian Federation, a number of large-scale projects of the international level were implemented; record economic indicators for the city were achieved in the tourism industry.Recall that in 2019, 10.4 million tourists visited Saint Petersburg, which is 26.8% higher than the same indicator in 2018.