Russia must maximise its tourism potential – Putin

The country is so hungry for tourists it is going to spend $3 billion to attract them.

The money will be spent on funding the most exciting tourist projects in different regions.

The aim of the program is to increase the number of tourists arriving in the country by six times (up to 23 million people) by 2018. The number of Russian tourists exploring their own country is set to rise by 1.5 times (from 29 to 45 million people).

The overall volume of tourism market is to grow by 4.7 times (417 billion rubles).

The plan was unveiled by the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who says Russia has large tourist potential which is not yet used to the full.

The share of tourism is the country’s GDP is around 6.5 per cent, while the average figure around the world is 9.4 per cent. In the international tourism competition rating, Russia ranks 59 out of 139.

“We exploit only 30 per cent of our country’s potential,” said Putin. “Yet almost every Russian region has the resources for developing tourism. Russia is considered the fourth-richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. I think they underestimate us.”

“From the far north to the south, and from east to west, there is a huge variety of landscapes that you won’t find anywhere else. Our Golden Ring, Silver Ring, Volga River, Altai and Baikal have all already become brands, they are known all over the world. And that’s only a small fraction of Russia’s cultural and historical riches,” Putin added.

Tourism specialists are happy with the trend, which will inevitably help Russia achieve a new level in tourist industry.

“We are very happy that the government has become interested in Russian domestic tourism,” Marina Levchenko, general director of Tari Tour, told RT. “Even without this interest, tourism has been developing. People are sick and tired of going to Turkey and Egypt. If we have good conditions inside our country, of course everyone will travel.”

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