Representatives of ministries and agencies, experts and leading tour operators discussed the problems of Crimea’s tourism industry.
Alexey Konyushkov, Deputy Director of the Federal Agency for Tourism, noted in his speech that Crimea is a unique place for recreation and treatment, for educational and culture tourism. “There are positive changes taking place in Crimea. In 2016, 11 hotels with 618 rooms were opened. The number of beaches doubled to 369 and they are also steadily improving. The geography of flights into Crimea is expanding and the number of flights is increasing.”
“Of course, there are still many unresolved problems”, Mr Konyushkov stated, “but the statistics and positive changes gladden the heart. We hope that the 2017 season will be successful.”
Anna Nerozina, Deputy Minister for Resorts and Tourism of the Republic of Crimea: “We are pursuing a policy of maximum openness and striving to achieve maximum awareness of our opportunities. We have established collaboration with all Russia’s regions. There is a system of webinars up and running, with presentations of hotels and tourist sites. In 2016, over 40 events were held for tour operators, mostly from Russia.” The Deputy Minister said that a special number for tourist assistance had been established: 8 (800) 112 20.
Forecasting the number of tourists for the summer of 2017, Ms Nerozina said, “Compared to last year, prices in Crimean hotels have gone up by 15% on average. In addition, a flight to Crimea is more expensive than a flight to Sochi. A roundtrip ticket to Sochi for August costs 3,000–5,000 roubles less.”
Personnel is another issue requiring attention. “There is a demand for workforce but there is a problem with accommodation for out-of-towners. Mostly, the demand is for seasonal workers and, if we employ fourth- or fifths-year students, September must be made a vacation month”, the Deputy Minister said.
Grant Babasyan, General Director of Mriya Resort & Spa, took up the subject of personnel. He said, “Hotels need not only student workers from specialised universities. We need to set up education centres for training and recruiting hotel staff.”
Mr Babasyan believes that the authorities and government bodies must take a harder line in defending Crimea’s interests. “Together, we should avoid mistakes in strategic planning and implementation of projects in Crimea”, he noted.
Stanislav Krysin, Head of the Feodosia Administration, believes that tourism is a sector not only for hoteliers and restaurateurs. “Tourists do not want to spend all their time in Crimea lounging on the beach. Other areas should be developed for them as well, such as pilgrimages and cultural tourism.” Mr Krysin also believes that maritime traffic based at the More plant should be developed. “Crimea must become a tourist Mecca. Turkey is a year-round tourist destination and we should adopt their experience”, he noted.
The experts assess that Crimea received 5.5 million tourists in 2016. Feodosia received over 400,000 people. The head of the city administration believes that tourism might “boost the development of Crimea as a whole. It requires clearing up cities and resort villages, making them clean, cozy and attractive, and it also requires beautifying the beaches”, Mr Krysin said.
Andrey Filonov, Head of the Evpatoria Administration, believes that Evpatoria occupies a niche different from that of Turkey, where the “all-inclusive” system has been successfully adopted and service is geared toward the client, and that marketing should shape demand. Mr Filonov said, “Evpatoria is underappreciated. It should become an all-Russia health resort for children. That requires active government participation in constructing the city’s infrastructure. We should shape a demand for Crimea”, Mr Filonov said.
Prof. Vladimir Eremenko, Dean of the Socio-Cultural Technologies Faculty at the St Petersburg State Institute of Culture and Arts, noted: “There is no goal today to increase the number of tourists to Crimea. We should concentrate on creating tourist facilities and on improving existing ones.”
Elena Krivenkova, Chairman of the Hospitality Industry Committee of the Delovaya Rossiya All-Russia Public Organisation, drew the participants’ attention to the fact that people from other regions of Russia have very low awareness of Crimea’s tourist products. She believes that Crimea needs a new marketing policy and a clear market segmentation. Ms Krivenkova thinks that overcoming seasonality, simplifying logistics and reducing the tax burden on the tourist industry are the relevant goals today.