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Tourists Turn Back on St. Petersburg

Published: April 30, 2014 (Issue # 1808)



  • Tourist numbers are down significantly so far this year.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The number of trips to St. Petersburg canceled by foreign tourists has increased by 15 to 20 percent this year when compared to the same time last year, tourism industry representatives said at a press conference Monday.

According to Leonid Flit, chairman of the management board of the North-Western regional department of the Russian Tourism Industry Union, the increase in canceled trips and bookings is due to recent events in Ukraine.

The majority of cancellations have been made by American tourists, as well as by a number of European tourists, Flit said. However, the citys tourism officials said that such decreases are not fatal to the industry. I think the situation will improve in June, he said.

At the same time, Yekaterina Shadskaya, director of the North-Western regional department of the Russian Tourism Industry Union, said that they registered an increase in the number of Russian tourists from other regions visiting St. Petersburg.

This year we witnessed an increase in Russian tourists traveling around the country. More and more of them are coming to St. Petersburg, Shadskaya said.

The experts also discussed the general options to attract more tourists to the city. Some of the suggestions included building more budget and two- and three-star hotels in St. Petersburg, developing new tourism clusters in the city as well as launching more St. Petersburg-oriented Internet applications.

Inna Shalyto, head of St. Petersburgs Tourism Development Committee, admitted that the city has a deficit of two- and three-star hotels, and that officials are currently discussing what can be done to improve the situation.

We understand that building two- or three-star hotels in the center of the city is quite expensive. Therefore we may consider the construction of such hotels in areas further from the center. However, this will then mean we need to organize faster and easier transportation to those areas and the introduction of English road signs in the city. It is quite a process, Shalyto said.

Shalyto said St. Petersburg could become a place for international exhibitions too but, well need to build a modern hall able to hold up to 7,000 people and another two halls to seat up to 3,000 people, she said.

Shalyto said St. Petersburg should also develop cluster tourism, in which tourists come not only to see the most famous sights but other areas of the city, along with yacht tourism and roof-walking tours.

In Paris, people dont want to only see the Louvre but also Montmartre; in London they want to see Big Ben but theyre also interested in Soho. In turn, we can offer trips to Vasilievsky Island and develop it as a tourist destination, Shalyto said.

Tallinns yacht tourism brings up to 20 million euros a year and Stockholm takes in 50 million euros a year, Shalyto said. We only get a few thousand euros for that. We should open more yacht clubs and develop this activity.

Roof-walks are another interesting option for providing tourists a new view of the city. However, Shalyto said that the safety of the citys roofs must improve first.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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