S. Korneev: St. Petersburg tourist flow to recover within 1.5-2 years

16 June 2020

The authorities of the northern capital expect the tourist flow to recover in its entirety over the next one and a half to two years. The Chairman of the Committee for Tourism Development of St. Petersburg, Sergey Korneev stated to the TASS press agency.

“When the epidemiological situation stabilises and everyone resumes their work, we will face the challenge of getting our guests back, because global and domestic competition, competition between travel agencies, accommodation facilities, hotel chains and transport companies is expected to increase. The tourist flow will recover - I have no doubt about that. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says that it will take four to six years to recover the world tourism. Our goal is to achieve this faster, in one and a half to two years. In all previous crisis situations, it was the tourism industry that showed the highest ‘survival rate’ and ‘pulled’ dozens of related industries. If the virus is defeated and we learn to coexist with it, this will happen again,” said Korneev.

According to the projection data he cited, under a pessimistic scenario St. Petersburg may lose about 70-80% of the tourist flow this year, “the best-case scenario, which first of all depends on the epidemiological situation, is 50-60%.”

The tourists’ return to St. Petersburg will occur gradually, since during the initial period after lifting the pandemic restrictions, people, despite the increased demand for travel due to forced isolation, will carefully weigh the risks and opportunities of one tourist destination over another, the Head of the Committee noted. “And the city also has a competitive advantage here: we have the largest sanatorium complex in the world in the northern latitudes, primarily in our Kurortny District. We will be paying great attention to it, because, firstly, today it’s a trend to correct our health after all the viral troubles, and secondly, for this we have unique natural healing factors - the Baltic Sea, coniferous air, mineral water and much more,” he said, adding that “St. Petersburg, in partnership with Leningrad Oblast, has offers on all forms of tourism.”

“At present, when we communicate with our foreign colleagues, they say that it is very important to them that St. Petersburg returns to the world tourist map as quickly as possible, because it wouldn’t be just for the city's success and benefit, the world and Russian tourist markets depend on us as well, they need someone to work with. St. Petersburg is one of the world's largest tourist centres, which is so integrated in this chain that you can't go on without it,” said Korneev.

According to the Head of the Committee, the virus clearly showed how important tourism was for St. Petersburg, for the country and the world as a whole.

“What is tourism for St. Petersburg in numbers? The direct contribution of the tourism industry to the city’s GRP last year amounted to 4.4% or 209 billion rubles, which is comparable, for example, with activities in the construction sphere that has been increasing the rate of housing delivery in recent years and making a significant contribution to the city’s economy. At the same time, tourism has the largest multiplier effect: it provides business to a large number of related industries - the sphere of commerce and services, it provides customers to restaurants, cafés, transport services, visitors to cultural institutions and many other organisations, and also gives a boost to the development of new creative spaces and entire city territories, which previously was not always so obvious. The tourism industry provides job opportunities for at least 100 thousand people,” Korneev said.

According to estimated data, taking into account the multiplier effect, the share of tourism in GRP in 2019 was 6%. “Last year, the growth of the tourism GRP reached its maximum value over the past five years - 124.1%, which is 4.8 times more than the growth of the GRP of St. Petersburg in general. That means tourism is not only a significant economic part of the city’s life, but also one of the main drivers of its development,” Korneev said.

According to official figures, over the past four years the flow of foreign tourists into the city has almost doubled. If in 2015 there were 2.8 million tourists, then in 2019 there were 4.9 million. In terms of foreign exchange earnings, over the past five years, the tourism industry in St. Petersburg has more than doubled its export volume (in 2019 $ 3.14 billion a year) and stably makes up more than 10% in the city's export structure (in 2019 - 12.5%). At the same time, the share of tourism constitutes almost half of St. Petersburg's non-resource exports (in 2019 - 44.5%).