“I really liked the Tatars and Russians. I have understood that you live in harmony”

Arab tourists are delighted with Tatarstan. Who else likes to go to our republic and how it has affected the service

A group of Arab tourists from Israel was struck by a trip to Tatarstan. Judging by the reviews, most of the guests in the region were impressed by the peace and harmony between representatives of different ethnicities and religions. The Arabs visited Bolgar, Sviyazhsk and Kazan Federal University Planetarium. Realnoe Vremya newspaper has also studied other reviews of foreign tourists about Kazan, how they reacted to the “Tatar fast food” and free access to the Kul Sharif Mosque. The State Committee for Tourism and specialists of Visit Tatarstan website, responsible for the flow of tourists, told how Kazan began to speak English thanks to foreigners.

“I really liked the Tatars and Russians”

The group of 18 Arab tourists from Israel shared their impressions of the trip to Tatarstan with TNV TV channel. Coming to the republic at the invitation of their colleagues, a native of Tatarstan, they have visited Bolgar, Sviyazhsk, Temple of All Religions and KFU Planetarium.

“I really liked the Tatars and Russians. I have understood that you live here in harmony,” Alia Aburabia, one of the tourists, admitted.

“I didn't expect 10 per cent of what I have seen. Very beautiful houses, very beautiful, unusual architecture,” other guest, Samaher Esvan, said.

Kazan regularly hits the ten most popular cities among foreigners

We have already reported that Kazan is among the three Russian cities from which foreigners begin to get acquainted with Russia. According to Aviasales, Kazan is most often visited by foreign tourists from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, UAE and UK. In total, 7% of Russian respondents advise foreign guests to visit Kazan. It is noted that the capital of Tatarstan is a picturesque city that has absorbed the culture of different peoples. The first place is taken by St. Petersburg, for which 56% of respondents voted. It is followed by Moscow (32%).

According to another service, Maps.me, in the list of the most popular among foreigners regions of Russia Tatarstan is the seventh, second to Adygea, Rostov, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Krasnodar Krai, Bashkortostan rounds out the top ten. Besides, Tatarstan has recently entered the top ten safest tourist regions of Russia, along with Moscow, Leningrad Oblast and Altai.

The World Cup — the main “trigger” of popularity

According to official data for 2018, 345,700 foreign tourists visited Tatarstan. As Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan Sergey Ivanov noted, the number of foreign citizens who visited Tatarstan increased by almost a quarter (+24,3%) compared to 2017.

For comparison, 278,000 foreigners visited the republic in 2017, in 2016 — 250,000. Then Tatarstan was most often by tourists from China, Colombia, Germany, Iran and Turkey some foreigners for obvious reasons came to Tatarstan to root for their national team at the World Cup. In total, last year the tourist flow to Tatarstan amounted to 3,4 million people, by almost 10% more than in 2017. The volume of services rendered in the field of tourism, taking into account related industries (costs of food, transport, purchases) at the end of the year was projected at the level of 28,3 billion rubles, which is by 37% more than in 2017.

Kazan like a “real Eurasian city”

The 2018 World Cup, which took place a few years after the Universiade in Kazan, was actually the second powerful factor that attracted tourists. In addition, the World Cup became a challenge for the service and the Tatarstan authorities. Last year, for example, many foreign tourists made advertising of Kazan through word of mouth in social networks: they posted photos with the sights of the city, signing pictures: “Amazing city” or “A beautiful day in Kazan”.

Judging by the frequency of objects in the photos, especially popular were Bauman Street, Kazan Kremlin, Palace of Agriculture and Kul Sharif Mosque (“Happiness that there are such incredible places” — a Colombian fan posted), they compared the capital of Tatarstan with London. An Iranian fan described Kazan as “a real Eurasian city with the most amazing people, culture and history”.

Among popular — Peredvizhniki exhibition and Sabantuy

According to the ministry of culture of the Republic of Tatarstan, the greatest interest among foreigners was aroused by the Kazan Kremlin — it was visited by 297,200 people. And... the Peredvizhniki exhibition from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery — it was visited by 2,900 people. In the days of the World Cup, other museums and exhibitions were also popular: Kazine art gallery, the exhibitions “After the thaw. The fine art of the 1970-80s”, “Leather mosaic of Nailya Kumysnikova”, “Russian art of the 16th-20th centuries”. Frequent guests in Kazan museums were tourists from China, the USA, Germany, Mexico, Iran, Brazil, Australia, Korea and Italy.

Not only places but also holidays cause particular interest in foreigners, more precisely, one holiday — Sabantuy, which, for example, last year was attended by tourists from Spain, Colombia, Poland, Australia, the US and Vietnam. Colombian fans “have not seen such a spectacle anywhere else” and described the Sabantuy competition — “almost like football, bright, hot”. “It is very extreme, for the first time I have seen such game,” a foreigner said about the national wrestling koresh. “Just crazy fans.” Chinese women liked Sabantuy because it was “noisy and fun”.

What foreigners say about Tatarstan in blogs

Foreign tourists often leave reviews about visiting Tatarstan, including on YouTube. For example, in the autumn of 2017, Tim Kirby, a video blogger of Russia Beyond Travel channel, visited Kazan, immediately finding a train from Kazan airport “10 times cheaper than in Kazan — although he travels infrequently”. Tatar national food seemed to him “amazing”, although “a lot of calories and flour”. Kirby even regretted that there is no “Tatar fast food” in other cities. In the House of Tatar Cuisine (Dom Tatarskoy Kulinarii), he had lunch with chorba (“fantastic”) and manti (“delicious, melting in your mouth”) and he tried to make a chak-chak. Like most foreign guests, if not all, he walked along Bauman Street, noting “beautiful views and the opportunity to immediately come to the Kazan Kremlin”. He was surprised that he was allowed to shoot the Kul Sharif Mosque (“the best in the Kremlin!”) inside, and he seemed to have heard the imam's prayer for the first time.

“The mosque shows the difference between the Western and Russian empires. Ivan the Terrible could forcibly impose his religion, but he allowed the locals to preserve their faith,” the blogger said.

Before leaving, he visited the Volleyball Centre, “where you can find the most beautiful — and tall — girls of Kazan” — “cheerleaders”, in particular. American journalist Chelsea Cannell, for her part, noted the fact that the majority of Kazan residents are young people: there are almost 200,000 students from 68 countries on the streets. Another tourist, from Boston, was surprised by the “Tatar kindness”: I forgot my shoes in a bus, and a man was running three stops to give them, but he did not even speak English”.

Iran has become the second by the number of those interested in Tatarstan — because of the new flight Tehran-Kazan

The State Committee on Tourism admitted that they have not yet managed to sum up the first results for 2019, but told about the trends. So, according to statistics from Visit Tatarstan — The Official Tourist Portal of the Republic of Tatarstan (the official page of the tourist brand of the Republic of Tatarstan, the website has recently won the national contest of the best practices and initiatives for socio-economic development of regions of Russia in the nomination “The development of the tourism potential of the region”), this year among the “suppliers” of tourists in the republic of Tatarstan the first place is still Russia. Iran is the second. “We think that this is due to the opening of the new flight between Tehran and Kazan, Iranian tourists began to come more often,” the state committee suggests. The third is China, and it has not changed for two years. They are followed by Germany and the US. Then the UK, Kazakhstan, Finland.

“Most of all, foreign tourists are interested in classical destinations like Bolgar, Sviyazhsk. Kamskoye Ustye (Kama River Estuary) has become more popular among Russian tourists as a camping solution for outdoor recreation. They are also interested in restaurants and cafes in the centre of Kazan and on the Kremlin embankment,” Visit Tatarstan told Realnoe Vremya.

About how foreigners made citizens of Tatarstan speak English

According to the manager of the website for analytical projects Visit Tatarstan — Centre for Tourism Development of the Republic of Tatarstan Yelizaveta Stepanova, “tourists in Tatarstan like to visit the Kazan Kremlin, the national complex Tugan Avylym», Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda.

“Foreigners note the beautiful views, our respect for the cultural heritage as the positive side. They notice the tidiness, cleanliness of the streets,” she said. “I like that they can get acquainted with the local national peculiarity in Tatarstan. Every year we see that tourists contribute to improving the level of service culture in hotels, hostels, restaurants and cafes. Tourists, indeed, note the goodwill and responsiveness of local residents. Not to mention the national cuisine, which they like.”

Separately, the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan notes the positive impact of foreign tourists on the quality of local service and the Kazan residents: foreigners increase the level and frequency of service in English in cafes, restaurants, hotels — “the level of English language proficiency of the staff continues to grow after the World Cup.”

By Sergey Afanasyev
Events Tatarstan