Moscow is emerging as a vibrant tourist destination for Gulf travellers: Official - GulfToday

Moscow is emerging as a vibrant tourist destination for Gulf travellers: Official

Moscow welcomed over two million business tourists in the first half of 2023.

Moscow welcomed over two million business tourists in the first half of 2023.

Sajjad Ahmad, Deputy Business Editor

Moscow is emerging as a vibrant tourist destination, with particular emphasis on fostering ties with Gulf countries, especially the UAE. In recent years, various measures have been implemented to enhance the travel experience to Moscow and make it more convenient and enjoyable for visitors, said Bulat Nurmukhanov, Head of the International Cooperation Division of the Moscow City Tourism Committee.

He added, “The influx of tourists from the UAE to Moscow has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, indicating a growing interest in our city. We closely monitor the efforts and initiatives of our counterparts in the region, particularly in the UAE, and admire their achievements in the tourism sector.”

“Regularly conducting business missions and engaging with our international colleagues enables us to exchange experiences and best practices. By learning from each other, we strive to enhance tourism services collaboratively, ensuring a memorable and fulfilling experience for travelers to Moscow.”

About tourism collaboration between Moscow and the UAE, Nurmukhanov revealed, “As part of our collaboration efforts, the Moscow City Tourism Committee actively engages with our counterparts in the GCC. On February 7th, we conducted our first business mission of the year in Dubai, bringing together representatives from major tour operators and accommodation providers. This event is part of a series of initiatives aimed at fostering tourism cooperation between the Moscow City Tourism Committee and Gulf countries, while also strengthening business relations within the tourism industry.”

Regarding the growth of Moscow tourism, he explained, “Moscow’s tourism infrastructure continues to undergo significant development and expansion. Over the past 11 years, the city has seen the construction of more than 70 new hotels, boasting over 12,000 rooms in total. With a substantial inventory of 1,900 hotels, Moscow offers a diverse range of accommodation options. Additionally, we are actively enhancing our transportation infrastructure to better cater to the needs of tourists.”

Praising the global attraction of Moscow, Nurmukhanov added, “In the first half of 2023, Moscow welcomed over two million business tourists, marking a 10 per cent increase compared to the same period the previous year. Notably, this segment of tourism has not only rebounded to pre-Covid levels but has surpassed them.”

About the city exhibition-hosting capacity, he explained, “Moscow boasts a well-developed congress and exhibition infrastructure, with over 30 venues capable of accommodating more than 40,000 people. The city regularly hosts a wide array of business events, ranging from forums to international exhibitions.

In 2023, Moscow had the honor of hosting the Global MICE Congress, drawing participation from 300 individuals, including foreign delegations from 14 countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, India, and China, among others. The congress facilitated discussions on various aspects of business tourism, attracting government representatives, congress and exhibition organizers, MICE agency leaders, top managers, hoteliers, and industry experts. Overall, the event facilitated over 400 business negotiations between representatives of Russian and foreign MICE industries.”

On the cooperation with GCC tourism industry, he said, “Our primary objective is to facilitate closer ties between Moscow and the Middle East tourism industry. We organise business missions for Moscow tourism companies abroad, fostering face-to-face interactions with industry counterparts. Additionally, we arrange familiarisation tours to Moscow for foreign companies, promoting knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Furthermore, we conduct educational initiatives for Moscow businesses, providing detailed insights on engaging with foreign markets. For instance, we recently hosted a webinar for the Moscow hotel industry focused on Halal standards and their implementation. This initiative is part of our broader strategy to adapt city infrastructure to accommodate tourists from Islamic countries.”

On the Moscow diversified tourism offerings, he further added, “Moscow is dedicated to enhancing its tourism offerings to appeal to visitors from the UAE and the broader Gulf region. Our strategy involves diversification, infrastructure development, business initiatives, and traveler-friendly policies to position Moscow as an attractive destination for a wide range of experiences. We provide diverse tourist experiences tailored to different demographics, including Arabic-language tours and accommodations in Halal-certified hotels. Furthermore, Moscow boasts a rich culinary scene featuring renowned restaurants recognised globally, as evidenced by the MICHELIN Guide Moscow 2022 selection.”

“Moreover, significant investments have been made in enhancing green spaces, with improvements to over 900 parks and green areas and the revitalization of 40 embankments covering a total length of 65 kilometers. New attractions are continually emerging, and transport connectivity is improving through road upgrades and the construction of new subway stations. Moscow also serves as a gateway to explore other regions of Russia through the Moscow+ framework, offering tourists the opportunity to visit destinations such as St. Petersburg, Kazan, Tumen, Nizhny Novgorod, and cities in the Moscow Region within a single trip.”

Talking about the new initiatives taken to attract Gulf tourists, Bulat Nurmukhanov concluded, “Since August 1st, citizens of 55 countries have been granted access to Russia through an electronic visa system. Among Middle Eastern nations, Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia are included in this program. Additionally, citizens of the UAE and Qatar have long enjoyed a visa-free regime for travel to Russia. The process for obtaining an electronic visa is streamlined, requiring no invitations or hotel confirmations. The visa is typically issued within four days, regardless of weekends or holidays. Visitors can travel for various purposes, including tourism, business, or participation in social, political, economic, scientific, cultural, and sporting events.”

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