“About 40% of guests who come for business purposes return for leisure”

“About 40% of guests who come for business purposes return for leisure”


Moscow, along with St. Petersburg, forms the bulk of tourist arrivals of foreigners to Russia. How the portrait of guests is changing, the head of the international interaction department of the Moscow Tourism Committee told Kommersant. Bulat Nurmukhanov.

— What share of the tourist flow in Moscow this year, according to your forecasts, will be formed by foreign tourists?

— As the mayor reported, last year a total of 24.5 million tourists visited Moscow. The majority came from tourist flows from other regions of Russia; 2.3 million people arrived from other countries. Year on year, foreign tourist flows increased by 600 thousand people. It is too early to make forecasts for 2024, but we expect the positive dynamics to continue.

— Which countries provide the bulk of the foreign tourist flow to Moscow?

— China is leading: since 2022, the number of tourists from this country has increased fivefold. Türkiye is in second place, and India is in third place. Tourists from neighboring CIS countries play an important role. There is a noticeable share of guests from the Middle East, in particular from the United Arab Emirates. In 2023, the number of visitors from the UAE exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The Emirates is a very interesting market for us in terms of attracting tourists. These are wealthy travelers who, among other things, contribute to the restoration of occupancy of five-star hotels.

The portrait of tourists from China is changing. If previously these were primarily groups with a small average bill per person, now individual tourists, young people who spend more, and business travelers are more likely to travel. About 40% of guests who come to the city for business purposes then return for a longer stay, including with family members or friends.

— How important are foreign tourists to the city in general?

— In 2023, according to our estimates, a foreign tourist in Moscow on average spent several times more than a traveler from other regions of Russia. And this is a big contribution to the city’s economy. Last year, tourists spent 1.3 trillion rubles in the city, and the Moscow budget will receive 178 billion rubles.

— What measures influence the growth of foreign tourist flow?

— The introduction of an electronic visa has a positive effect, and we expect that this will continue to stimulate tourist flow. In the case of China, the resumption of the visa-free regime for tourist groups had an impact. A similar mechanism is being prepared for groups from Iran, and, as reported by the Ministry of Economy, negotiations are underway on a visa-free regime for groups from India. Of course, the expansion of international air traffic has an impact. The potential for restoration of transport accessibility still remains, but the dynamics are generally positive.

— What measures can the city implement to increase its attractiveness for foreign tourists?

— In the Moscow City Tourism Committee, we are promoting the city as a tourist destination – for example, we have become more active in Chinese social networks, inviting foreign bloggers and journalists, and helping to establish business contacts between Russian and foreign tour operators at industry exhibitions and forums. In those countries where we see the greatest potential, for example in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, work is progressing more actively.

— What needs to be done in connection with the changing geography of foreign tourist flow?

— We are working on adapting the city infrastructure for foreign tourists, for example, translating signs on signs and other information into Chinese. We also see potential in the development of gastronomy according to Halal standards. And we train our industry workers within the Moscow Tourist Hub on the peculiarities of receiving foreign guests from India and the Middle East.

Interview conducted by Anatoly Kostyrev

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