The draft decree of the Government of the Russian Federation “On the approval of the rules for granting subsidies from the federal budget in 2021 to stimulate affordable domestic tourist trips through reimbursement of part of thepaid tourist services’cost” is posted on the federal portal of draft regulatory acts: https://regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=112782
The offer will be valid until June 20, 2021. The terms remain the same: the duration of the tour or hotel stay must be at least 2 nights; payment must be made with a MIR card; cashback will hit the account within 5 days after paying for the tour or hotel; the maximum payment is up to 20% of the cost of the tour or hotel reservation, but not more than 20 thousand rubles. If the draft resolution is adopted without changes, the program will also include recreation in children’s camps.
“Federal Agencyfor Tourismand the Russian Government supported St. Petersburg’s requestto include the city’s tourist offers at the first stage of the cashback program, and then to postpone trips within the second stage of the program to the whole of 2021. Such measures, among other things, helped hospitality industry to continue its operations in the extremely difficult conditions caused by the pandemic, and gave tourists an incentive to re-evaluate the multifaceted tourism opportunities of St. Petersburg. The next stage of the cashback program is a very coordinated and timely decision: despite the tendency towards a cautious increase in requests and bookings for visiting our city in February-March, in order to further restore tourist flowsafter the pandemic situation improvesboth the government and the travel community will need to do complex and systematic work so as to turn the deferred tourist demand towards St. Petersburg, its “classic” and new tourist offerings. It is to attract guests to our city in the near future that we have held and will further continue to holda verystrong information campaign in the domestic and international markets. Taking into account the support provided by the Government of St. Petersburg to the tourism industry –more than 4 billion rubles in total –cashback will become a significant federal measure that will undoubtedly help all of us – the city’s hospitality industry, travel agencies and hotels – to survive the difficult period and move on to reviving the industry”, - comments Sergey Korneev, the chairman of the Committee for Tourism Development.
Industry experts also assess the extension of the Federal Tourism Agency’sprogrampositively:
“Tour operators were looking forward to the third stage of the cashback program. Most travel companies see this campaign as a real business support. We very much hope that the restrictions, including those in museums, will be lifted by the time the program starts”, - says Ekaterina Shadskaya, director of the North-West regional branch of the Russian Union of Travel Industry.
According to Alexei Musakin, vice president of the Russian Hotel Association, the first two stages of the cashback program showed cautiously increasing interest in the opportunity of saving on travel expenses: “The interest is cautious because the existing restrictions and the fear of infection in general reduced travel globally. As a result of these stages, some travel agencies and hotels were skeptical about this program. But even back then the RHA said that the main goal of the cashback program at the first stages was to promote the possibility of interesting and, most importantly, affordable travel across Russia and, above all, to St. Petersburg. That is why we, along with other industry associations and the St. Petersburg Committee for TourismDevelopment, joined the discussionwith the Federal Agency for Tourism about the need for mandatory continuation of the program in years to come, and possibly forever. I cannot say that the upcoming stage will show an explosive growth in demand, but I am sure that this year there will definitely be a significant increase in program participants and this will allow the tourism market to recover faster”.
It is worth reminding that during the pandemic, the cashback program introduced by the Federal Agency for Tourismwas an additional incentive for domestic tourism, including travel to St. Petersburg.
Travelling within the country, Russian tourists had the opportunity to receive a refund based on the cost of the trip.
In 2020St. Petersburg lost 90% of the international tourist flow, while all other fields like business travel, children’s recreation, sports tourism, sanatorium-resort vacation and many otherssuffered as well, but due to proactive efforts of the city and the market participants, as well as growth in demand, partially thanks to the cashback program, about 20% of losses were won back on domestic tourism.
According to the results of the second stage of the cashback program, our city was ranked among the top fivein terms of the total cost of bookings.
The city policy in the field of tourism is aimed at the preservation and further development of the industry. Before the onset of the second wave of the pandemic, the Tourism Committee together with the expert community developed a number of proposals for new tax benefits and other support measuresby order of the Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov. Accordingly, hotels, sanatorium and resort organizations, travel companies, as well as transport companies that carry out tourist bus services on a custom basis are exempted from the main regional taxesfor the duration of 2020 and 2021. The relevant amendments to the legislation were adopted by the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg and signed by the Governor.
Together with direct aid in the form of loans provided by the city government on December 28, the total amount of financialsupport will come to approximately 4 billion rubles.