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Russia tourism sector welcomes Chinese visitors

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

12-20-2016 17:27 BJT

By Tom McGregor & Li Shouen, CNTV Panview commentator

CNTV Panview was invited to the Moscow Forum on Dec. 7-9, hosted by the Municipal government. We spoke with local officials, business leaders and regular citizens to learn more about the Real Russia.

Russia remains a nation wrapped under an enigma. The Government struggles to overcome it’s ‘bad boy’ image, while financial sanctions imposed on Moscow by the United States, European Union and the United Nations have harmed the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates.

The economic hardships have devalued Russia’s currency, ruble, making it more affordable for foreign inbound tourists. Well, nobody loves good deals more than the Chinese and they are flocking to their northern neighbor.

According to statistics, Russia witnessed 5.5 million foreign visitors, with the Chinese topping the list with a three-fold increase, accounting for 500,000 inbound tourists.

Made for Chinese tours

Chinese tourists in Russia surpassed Germans for the first time last year, but there are major differences between luring the two groups.

Germans are more likely to seek first-class accommodations and pay top-of-the-line prices, while the Chinese, including the wealthy, prefer staying at budget hotels.

Nevertheless, five-star hotels in the country have utilized new strategies to bring in Chinese business and leisure travelers.

“Starting last year, our luxury and business hotels have opened up special rooms for our Chinese guests,” said Sinan Koseoglu, general manager of the Marriott Grand Hotel Moscow, speaking at a business conference.

He added, “We have a special breakfast buffet, serving Chinese food, along with tea rooms.”

He noted the Chinese are more likely to travel on group tours, whereas Westerners, come with families or as individuals. Accordingly, the Russian tourism sector should adapt to Chinese preferences.

New Silk Road biz travel

Russia can score bigger inbound cash-flow on deal-making with the Chinese. President Xi Jinping of China introduced the ‘Belt & Road’ New Silk Road initiative in 2013.

It’s a global economic cooperation pact, where Beijing helps Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe to build major infrastructure projects, such as energy, transportation and trading hubs to spark more cross-border trade and investment.

Moscow’s Municipal government has pledged to spend $US8bn. annually on infrastructure, including upgrades on Metro subway lines, trains - $US20bn. Moscow-Kazhan Line, along with building roads, parks and skyscrapers.

Chinese companies must open up more offices in Moscow and Chinese business people are becoming frequent guests of the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to open up the nation’s Far East region and invite Chinese investors to build in sparsely-populated and remote areas that are rich in natural resources.

Smart City connections

Additionally, the City of Moscow is moving ahead in an innovation direction, following the path of China’s smart cities. Police officers can maintain public security by posting thousands of cameras overlooking busy streets and video surveillance is connected to a computer cloud system.

Russian Parliament may soon issue Visa e-cards for frequent foreign visitors, since at airports, Customs Officials are notorious for slowing down the process for arrivals to enter Russian Federation territory.

Meanwhile in 2010, Moscow only had four technology zones, but by the end of 2017, 45 techno parks will be open. Chinese hi-tech firms are playing a pivotal role investing and creating new devices in Russia.

Chinese tourists can also soon apply for Mobile APPs that permit them to bypass long lines at 42-49 museums by simply scanning a QR code to purchase tickets.

Russian immigration has made it easier for the Chinese to apply for tourist/business visas.

Travel partners & neighbors

Beijing and Moscow ties have deepened in recent years, as Russia must rely on China more, due to Western sanctions. Yet sooner or later, Russia will rejuvenate its economy. Both nations can support each other in good and bad times.

Chinese tourists are coming to Russia in increasing numbers and the trend is likely to continue for many years ahead.

Tmcgregorchina@yahoo.com

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

  

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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