Last year, Russia made it to the top 10 of the world's most visited countries.
Russia ranked 43rd, ahead of Turkey, in the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index in 2016, said Oleg Safonov, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism.
The Russian Federation generally records over 30 million international tourist arrivals annually, a number, which will most certainly go up given the expected tourist volumes for the upcoming FIFA Confederation Cup and even more so for the 2018 World Cup, said Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Tourism generates strong fiscal revenues. In 2016, tourism had an economic impact of ca. RUB 250 billion, said Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg.
Russia is underinvested in tourism. If you are looking at the big international picture, you can always see countries which have good infrastructure and which are quite dynamic in pushing tourism.
They have proportion of tourism in the GDP of approximately 10%. Russia is below this level, said Klaus Mangold, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, TUI.
It is no secret that many museums have not been renovated since the Soviet times, said Dmitry Mironov, Acting Governor of Yaroslavl Region.
Potential barriers to visiting Russia include visas, having cheap flights, making sure that there are quality facilities, said Olivier Gremillon, Managing Director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Airbnb Inc.
Promoting Russian tourism inside and outside the country is impossible without having a tourist brand. 146 out of 195 countries do have tourist brands. Unfortunately, our country is one of the few without such a brand, said Oleg Safonov.
It is hard to overestimate the importance of this programme, as it covers the entire country from its Western to the Far Eastern borders and all the way from the North to the South.
This is a key consideration. Without the public-private funding and cooperation schemes, we are doomed to fail in maintaining the high growth rates, said Oleg Safonov.
Russian tourism has a significant potential waiting to be unlocked by private investors. What we need is a serious private investor who knows how to do business," said Svetlana Orlova, Governor of Vladimir Region.
We must recognise the importance of small tourist initiatives as an add-on to the big tourist projects.
We need to engage with intellectuals and enthusiasts who come up with interesting initiatives and know how to implement them,said Sergey Bachin, General Director, Roza Khutor.
We need to put new programmes in place. We work to promote such high-potential areas as industrial and culinary tourism. This year, we are going to pilot an underwater archaeology diving project at the Rybinsk Reservoir,” said Dmitry Mironov.
Several years ago, we introduced visa-free 72-hour visits to St. Petersburg for cruise passengers coming from the EU.
I believe that this was a good and useful initiative, and we should apply it to other means of transport, too, said Georgy Poltavchenko.
High quality tourist infrastructure. We are only starting to address this high priority infrastructural challenge. It requires increasing the number of hotel rooms, constructing new accommodation facilities, developing itineraries, and offering efficient transportation solutions, said Sergey Bachin.
We believe that building a strong tourist brand will effectively promote and stimulate both domestic and incoming tourism in Russia,said Oleg Safonov.
On Friday, the Russian Tourism Road Show, arranged by the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, took place in the Japanese capital of Tokyo.
The event was aimed at introducing Russia’s tourism potential to Japan.
"There are huge opportunities as far as tourism cooperation between Russia and Japan is concerned," head of the Russian embassy’s consular department Mikhail Sergeyev said addressing the show. He added that the two countries’ governments were striving to boost tourism ties between Russia and Japan and develop tourism business in Russia.
"In the coming years, many interesting international events are going to take place in Russia, including the FIFA World Cup," a spokesman for the Japanese association of tourist agencies said adding that it was the perfect time to visit Russia.
The Russian Tourism Road Show involved various Russian regions, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Republic of Buryatia and Primorsky region.