Tourists are sent further away // Travelers are expected in the Far East

The small number of available foreign destinations and the promotion of domestic tourism by the authorities makes Russians more actively explore the regions of the country. Against this background, more than 70% of representatives of the tourist business are counting on an increase in tourist flow to the Far East and the Arctic, KPMG found out. However, the destinations are unlikely to become widespread: tourists are still scared off by the flight distance, the lack of hotel rooms and infrastructure.

The growth of tourist flow to the Far East and the Arctic is expected by 71% of representatives of the profile business community, according to a study by KPMG. At the same time, 39% of companies believe that the growth in the number of guests will be moderate – no more than 25%. Another 23% predict an increase of 25-50%, and 9% – more than one and a half times. No change in tourist flow is expected, according to KPMG estimates, 16% of travel companies, and 13% predict a decline. The main factor in the increase in the number of trips is closed borders: this was stated by 61% of respondents. Another 44% say that interest is growing due to positive feedback from influencers, 36% associate the positive effect with the program of subsidizing travel around the country.

The KPMG study notes that in 2019 the total tourist flow to Primorye, Khabarovsk Territory, Amur, Magadan regions, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Chukotka, Buryatia, Yakutia, Transbaikalia and the Jewish Autonomous Okrug reached 7.4 million people. Of these, 5 million people visited Primorye. Analysts consider the Arctic as the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk regions, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Karelia, Komi, Yamalo-Nenets and Nenets Autonomous Okrug: 1.2 million travelers visited here in 2019. Of these, 458 thousand tourists were received by the Murmansk region.

According to Ilya Umansky, the general director of the Alean tour operator, interest in the Murmansk region has increased by 72.3% over the year, the region has become the fastest growing non-beach destination. TUI, which launched charters to Sakhalin this year, speaks of high interest in the destination. Nonetheless, Mr. Umansky acknowledges that the Far East and the Arctic remain “narrow destinations with their own audience.” This is confirmed by the data of KPMG, according to which 58% of the respondents-tourists, in principle, have never considered the Far East and the Arctic for travel. Nevertheless, the regions can count on a high share of returning tourists: 88% of guests would like to visit them again.

According to the general director of the tour operator “Dolphin” Sergei Romashkina, tourists in general return to excursion destinations less willingly than to the beach ones. Therefore, the expert is sure that the Far East should stake on developing additional routes and attracting new guests, primarily foreigners. The internal flow, according to the forecasts of Mr. Romashkin, will show a decrease after the resumption of flights with other countries. Olga Surikova, director of the tax and legal consulting department at KPMG, clarifies that outflow is possible in all directions.

In any case, experts doubt that the Far East and the Arctic will become truly massive destinations. Ilya Umansky notes the lack of infrastructure, primarily hotel rooms. This is confirmed by KPMG data: 35% of guests in the Arctic and 27% in the Far East reported a small choice of accommodation. The seasonal nature of the tourist flow is difficult for conducting a specialized business in the region: 69% of KPMG respondents spoke about this, 59% noted high construction costs and a long payback period. The tourists themselves, as shown by the KPMG survey, talk about a long flight (56% of respondents) and underdeveloped recreation infrastructure (38%). The latter factor also negatively affects the Arctic, as stated by 48% of those surveyed.

Alexandra Mertsalova