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More Tourists Choose to Arrive by Sea

Published: October 6, 2009 (Issue # 1515)



  • Cruise tourism to St. Petersburg has suffered less than the rest of the industry, with the port seeing an increase in visitors.
    Photo: Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

The number of tourist groups visiting St. Petersburg decreased by 15 to 25 percent this year. Cruise tourism has suffered the least during the economic crisis.

The citys passenger seaport closed for the season late last month. This year, it welcomed 426,500 people 7 percent more than the year before. During the last year, the number of passengers grew by 32 percent. Three hundred and twenty-three passenger vessels docked in the St. Petersburg port from May 4 through Sept. 25, compared to 317 last year. The Marine Facade terminal served as the gateway for 244,300 of the citys tourists, said Nikolai Isayev, head of tourism infrastructure development at St. Petersburgs committee for investment and strategic projects.

Ships filled up at pre-crisis levels of 99 to 100 percent, said Igor Glukhov, general director of Inflot Worldwide St. Petersburg cruise company. Stopping in St. Petersburg has become more profitable for cruise ships, since harbor dues which make up 30 to 50 percent of ship-owners costs have decreased by 25 to 30 percent due to the devaluation of the ruble, explained Glukhov. According to him, cruises last from three to 20 days, with an average cost of $150 per person per night. The manager of one American cruise operator confirmed that demand has not decreased, although filling up one vessel takes several times longer than it did in pre-crisis times. The majority of passengers are American and British retirees whose incomes have not suffered, he said.

When visiting ports, tourists generally spend little. Clients have become penny-pinchers and are more likely to choose inexpensive overview excursions that do not include museum visits, said Yelena Malchonok, general director of Arktour Travel. Demand among foreign tourists for river cruises from St. Petersburg to Moscow has decreased by 2 to 3 percent, said Anastasia Stepanova, the department manager of the Vodhod St. Petersburg cruise line.

Yet the level of organized inbound tourism fell this year by 15 to 20 percent compared to the same period in 2008, said Sergey Korneyev, northwest division manager for the Russian Union of Tourist Industries. This year the hotel occupancy level was 55 percent, while the average for 2008 was 70 percent. Prices for accommodation have not gone up, said Vladimir Ivanov, general director of Hotel Oktyabrskaya. In summer, up to 80 percent of the guests are foreigners. Hotel occupancy has fallen on average by fifteen percent down to sixty percent mostly on account of tourists, said Alexei Musakin, director of the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Hotel Association.

The flow of foreign tourists has decreased by 20 to 25 percent, estimates Valery Fridman, general director of Mir. Tourists reduced their spending by 20 to 25 percent compared to last year; for instance, 10 to 15 out of every 30 people will visit Peterhof, said Fridman. The excursion costs 22 euros. A year ago, clients spent $30 on additional tours; now, they think before spending $20, added the director of another tour company.

According to Korneyev, the reduced flow is compensated by individual tourists, both foreign and Russian. Fridman and Ivanov said they had not noticed such a trend.

By Malchonoks estimates, the number of passenger vessels may fall by 10 to 15 percent in 2010.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmChams Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaacs Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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