Russian and foreign experts, as well as representatives of St. Petersburg administration, participated in the discussion. According to Deputy Chairman of Committee for Culture Fyodor Boltin, St. Petersburg actively works on creating a brand that will become recognizable irrespectively of season.
According to Sergey Alekseev, the Vice President of Expoforum and the President of Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs, the main task facing St. Petersburg business industry is to fill the ‘low season’ with exhibitions of various formats. He also noted that million business tourists visited Russia last year, while in the whole world this figure was 300 million people. Therefore, specialized exhibitions and business events are able to attract an additional stream of travellers to St. Petersburg in the winter.
Nadezhda Petrova, Acting General Director of St. Petersburg City Tourist Information Bureau, spoke about the ongoing work carried out by St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development and St. Petersburg City Tourist Information Bureau to mitigate problems of tourist activity during the so-called 'low season' by creating new tourist offers and directions that are not put to seasonal fluctuations, developing thematic tourism and improving existing directions and ideas. Wedding, gastronomic and event tourism, as well as the creation of the loyalty programme ‘Winter Days’, are marked as promising directions of development.
Nadezhda Petrova especially noted that all development projects are united by a new modern concept of slow tourism, which provides visiting St. Petersburg without the usual fuss: the guest himself sets the comfortable pace of his trip, enjoying every minute spent in our city. More details about the presented programmes were told by experts.
Ilya Bannov, Head of the Department of Priority Tourism Activities of St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development, spoke about the event tourism development in the city on the Neva River, separately highlighting such new city events as ‘Festival of Light’, which attracted almost a million viewers in November 2018, and the fire festival ‘Christmas Star’, which brought together more than 150 thousand guests during the New Year 2019 holidays, and the number of tourists is about 12 thousand among the guests of these events.
The bright and successful experience in developing the direction of gastronomic tourism in Italy was shared with the audience by the head of the Visit Petersburg representative office in Rimini (Italy), the representative of the tourism department of the Emilia-Romagna region and Federico Fellini Airport in Rimini Leonardo Corbucci, who additionally noted the ongoing work with St. Petersburg City Tourist Information Bureau on the interaction development between St. Petersburg and the Emilia-Romagna region.
Since 2016, there is the ongoing work on opening Visit Petersburg representative offices in foreign countries in order to promote St. Petersburg in the international arena. Sergey Mstislavsky, the head of the Visit Petersburg representative office in Hong Kong and Taipei (China), spoke about the specifics of promoting St. Petersburg on the Asian market. Employees of Hong Kong and Taipei offices are actively promoting the Northern capital, and one of the results of their activity is the filming of a joint Taiwanese-Russian series in the city on the Neva in October 2019.
According to Sergey Mstislavsky, wedding tourism is also one of the modern tendencies in tourism development. Natalia Dorogaya, General Director of the event agency ND.Pro, spoke very creatively about the development of the new project ‘Wedding Petersburg’ and the holding of wedding events in St. Petersburg during the ‘low season’. Furthermore, the session participants were presented with a Visit SPb guest card format loyalty program and the establishment of online hotel booking function, new Pulkovo Airport initiatives to stimulate the tourist flow to St. Petersburg, and special attention was paid to the development of children's tourism. The event resulted in a lively discussion between experts and the audience, as well as cooperation proposals for the further implementation of the presented projects.
Let us remind that the congress and exhibition event St. Petersburg Tourist Hub was held in the Northern capital on September 11 and 12. On the territory of Expoforum, within the framework of the forum 33 Russian regions presented their facilities and best practices. The list of the Travel Hub's main topics is supplemented with such issues as tourism, the comfortable urban environment development, MICE, and tourism promotion, medical and recreational tourism. In addition to St. Petersburg Tourist Hub forum, organized by St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development and St. Petersburg Convention Bureau with the participation of St. Petersburg City Tourist Information Bureau in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), another large-scale industry event is held in the city on the Neva. From September 9 to 13, Petersburg hosts the XXIII session of the UNWTO assembly. The General Assembly is the supreme body of the organization, which meets every two years for the international community.