On December 6 the Federation Council held a round table on "Topical issues of the application of e-visas for foreign citizens staying in the Russian Federation and improvement of the legislation in this area".
The event was organized by the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security. The meeting was attended by Valerii Riazanskii, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, Liudmila Bokova, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Vladimir Dzhabarov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Aleksandr Rakitin, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, Igor Fomin, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, Sergei Tsekov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, as well as representatives of regional executive authorities, heads of federal and regional ministries and departments, representatives of the scientific and expert community.
Sergei Ivanov made a report on "Simplification of the visa regime as the main driver of the tourism industry in the Russian Federation".
"In general, the continuous growth of the global tourist flow has been going on for 8 years in a row, - said Sergei Ivanov, - according to a joint study by Ernst & Young, Russia ranks fifth among the most interesting tourist destinations for foreign tourists, but the potential of Russia as a tourist destination is not fully used.
At the same time, neighboring states have embarked on the path of active attraction of foreign tourists. Thus, in Georgia it was decided to cancel visas for the citizens of 104 countries, including the EU and the USA. As a result, in 2016 the number of foreign visitors in Georgia was 19% more". Sergei Ivanov continued: "Now the Russian citizens can freely visit 113 countries: Russians can travel to these countries "without visas" or receive visas right at the airport. There are also 11 countries that issue e-visas to the Russians. At the same time, citizens of only 36 countries can enter Russia without a visa. Among them: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominica, Cuba, Mauritius and other not rich countries.
On July 6, 2018 an agreement on the mutual abolition of visas for the citizens of the UAE and Russia was signed in Kazan, but this agreement still has not entered into force. Intergovernmental agreements on visa-free group travels have been signed with Iran and China, but the agreement with Iran is currently not valid."
The participants of the round table discussed the current practice of issuing e-visas to foreign citizens staying in Russia, the prospects of its extension to a greater number of checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation, as well as the expansion of the list of states whose citizens could receive e-visas. The issues of improving the legislation in this sphere were also touched upon.
The award ceremony of the National Geographic Traveler Awards 2018 was held in Moscow on November 21, 2018. The Republic of Tatarstan has become the winner in the Russian Gastronomic Tourism nomination leaving behind Krasnodarskii krai, Iaroslavskii, Tverskii, Sakhalinskii and Vladimirskii regions by the number of votes.
Sergei Ivanov, the Chairman of the State Committee of the Republic of Tatarstan for Tourism was awarded by Konstantin Ivlev, a famous chef and a host of culinary programs.
The online open vote was held from June 22 to October 5, 2018. The Republic of Tatarstan was supported by 40 percent of votes in the Russian Gastronomic Tourism category.
For the period from January to September of 2018 there is the growth of the tourist flow to the main tourist centers of the Republic of Tatarstan by 7.1% in comparison with the period of January-September of 2017.
The Kazan Kremlin and the city of Chistopol where the increase of flow is 11.4% and 12.2% respectively compared with the same period of 2017 show the growth in the number of tourists. 2 466 200 visitors saw the Kazan Kremlin. The Great Bolgar hosted 485 thousand tourists and more than 450 thousand tourists came to the island-town of Sviyazhsk in 2018.
In January-August of 2018 the volume of commercial services in the tourism sector has amounted to over 8.3 billion, which is 3.4% more than in the same period of 2017.
The average occupancy of hotels in Kazan for 8 months of 2018 has amounted to 62% while it was 58% in the same period of 2017. But if to compare the figures in August of 2017 and 2018, the current number is above by 2%.
Also there is the growth of transportation by air transport:
The international airport "Kazan" for the period of January-September has transported 2 461 389 passengers, while it was 1 994 501 passengers for the same period of 2017. Domestic directions make 62,4% of the total passenger flow. International passenger flow has increased by 27% in comparison with the same period of the previous year.
The international airport "Begishevo" for 9 months of 2018 has increased the number of flights by 24.1%, which amounted to 2 995 flights, the number of passengers transported has increased by 34,5% in comparison with the period of January-September of 2017.
Today the Executive body of the Kazan Kremlin holds the meeting of the Tatarstan State Counsellor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Republican Fund "Revival" of Mintimer Shaimiev with the volunteers of "Assembly of tourist volunteers of the Republic of Tatarstan" ANO.
Mintimer Shaimiev began the meeting, which gathered more than a hundred of activists of the volunteer movement in the Republic, with congratulations of the participants of the volunteer movement, of Sergey Ivanov, the head of the State Committee of Tatarstan for Tourism on the professional holiday – the Day of tourist. Damir Fattakhov, the Minister of Youth Affairs of Tatarstan, Irada Ayupova, the Minister of culture of the Republic and Tatiana Larionova, the Executive Director of the Fund "Revival" joined to the congratulations.
"You are the guys who do this important and necessary job from your heart and for people's pleasure. Volunteering is wonderful for everybody, for the whole society. And for each of you it is a path to success" – said Mintimer Shaimiev.
State Counselor pointed that in modern Russia the volunteer movement emerged for the first time in Tatarstan. And such a branch as tourist volunteering also emerged here. Today, young men and women in bright, noticeable clothes, ready to tell visitors about attractions almost in every language of the world and ready to give guidance are an integral part of the tourism industry in the region.
"Your movement is a tourism niche, it is more stable, more permanent in comparison with other branches of volunteering. While there is always something new in the industry. You are one of the best in the country, and this leadership, this niche is not to concede to anyone. But for you it is necessary to develop constantly: to study the history of the peoples of the region, places, objects" – said Mintimer Shaimiev.
It is necessary to pay attention to the study of languages. In the future young people of Tatarstan should graduate from school knowing at least three languages – is confident Shaimiev. Such knowledge will be useful even for those who don't plan to be a volunteer.
Shaimiev mentioned the bright work of the Tatarstan volunteers during the recent World Football Cup, where many of the foreign guests came not only for games but also in order to get acquainted with the history and culture of Russia and Tatarstan. He highly appreciated the Hospitable Kazan project. The tourist flow to the Republic has been constantly growing. Only in 2017 the region was visited by three million visitors. Every third visited Bolgar and Sviyazhsk.
One of the proposals mentioned by Julia Bashirova, the Director General of the "Assembly of tourist volunteers of the Republic of Tatarstan" ANO is related to all three territories of Tatarstan – Kazan, Bolgar and Sviyazhsk – where there are the monuments protected by UNESCO. Volunteers are ready not only to help the guests coming there, but also to question them, forming the portraits of interests and preferences. In the future this should help in the creation of new tourist routes.
In general, the tourist branch of the volunteer movement of the Republic has developed strong business relationships with the tourist industry. Guides are happy to share their experience and knowledge with the youth. The study visits of the objects, which then volunteers tell the region guests about, are organized.
Ksenia Zvereva, a volunteer student from Elabuga has proposed the creation of a fundamentally new for Russia branch of volunteering: student tourist labor groups. And these groups will be able to work not only seasonally, but all year round which is especially acute considering the fact that the guests from all over Russia and from abroad travel to Tatarstan in autumn and during the winter holidays.
The representatives of national authorities supported both of these ideas and other proposals of volunteers mentioned during the meeting. The job is really necessary and useful as the development of the volunteer movement in general.
"Very much has been achieved, but we are still not quite satisfied with our results. Not because something is bad. We just cannot stop and rest on our laurels. It is important to strain after self-improvement constantly, to create something, to adopt experience from others, to learn and to remain leaders" – summed up the results of the meeting Mintimer Shaimiev.