''I have never seen people who take a trip to dig potatoes as a rest''
Vladimir Nikolaev tells why rural tourism is a myth and what really tourists in Russia want
Vladimir Nikolaev, Director General of the company 211, wrote on the website ''The Secret of the Company'' the column We're screwed: Why the tourism in Russia is pain, which has been widely distributed in social networks. In it, the owner of a tourist company tells about what is wrong with the domestic tourism in Russia. Realnoe Vremya turned to the author of the column with additional questions that remained after reading it.
You have given a detailed description of Russian problems of tourism, but you also sell tours abroad. How much easier is it to organize tours abroad?
The infrastructure abroad is more developed — more hotels, equipment, attractions more accessible and landscaped. In Russia, the organizers are stronger, it is a consequence of poor infrastructure. We can sculpt the shit out of candy. So, when we come to Iceland or Norway, it is easier for us — we have to do less miracles. The problem of foreign countries is that it is abroad. We have alien there. In Russia the process of organization brings more buzz when the event ends, you feel like you have won a war.
When we come to Iceland or Norway, it is easier for us — we have to do less miracles. The problem of foreign countries is that it is abroad. We have alien there
In the column you mentioned ''fake shamans'' — it is, as I understand it, a fairly common problem: there have left few original facilities in the regions, there are remakes on their places, where the tourists are met by entertainers. How to develop tourism in such places and whether it is necessary at all?
As for fake shamans, I meant very real fake shamans. Speaking in a broader sense, I don't see anything wrong in remakes if they are well-made. Yes, it is a pity that some monuments are in poor condition, and some of them are lost. But that is no reason to grieve and sit on the ruins.
In Irkutsk, for example, in 2011 there was built the ''130 quarter'' — a pedestrian street in the city centre with merchant's mansions, recreated from archival sketches of real buildings. In houses there are hotels, cafes, restaurants, shops, and today it is one of the most popular places in the city among residents and tourists.
I don't see anything wrong in remakes if they are well-made. Yes, it is a pity that some monuments are in poor condition, and some of them are lost. But that is no reason to grieve and sit on the ruins
Russia has a lot of attractions: natural, architectural, cultural. The problem is not that they are dispersed over a vast territory, and that we don't know how to do proper packaging and advertising. I have seen in Iceland the remains of a ship, broken on the rocks, now it is a site for tourists. They paved paths, placed the information plates near the wreckage and made up a beautiful legend.
It is necessary to form separate tourism territories where you can come and spend 7-10 days. First and foremost, these clusters are more logical to develop where tourism exists in a developed form — in Karelia, Sochi, Altai, Baikal, Kamchatka.
I heard from friends who traveled to the Altai that they faced with some very angry and consumer attitude of local people towards visitors. Is it easy for you to find points of contact with the locals when creating tours? Do they contribute to the development of tourism in the territory or hinder it?
It's hard to answer definitely. On the one hand, among the local people there are people who know every blade of grass in their region, but they do not perceive tourism as a business. On the other hand, there are businessmen who are far from nature, but who can see opportunities in the development of natural attractions. Even if they all cooperate, it does not guarantee an outstanding product. It needs a special kind of entrepreneurs who are good at both things.
You shouldn't forget that business in Russia is small and amounts to several decades. It takes time to make tourism perceived by entrepreneurs and the government as a promising source of income along with resource industries. People who live in ''tourist regions'' that can't accept the fact that the aliens come and take away their favorite beaches, meadows in the forest and mountain peaks. They leave after themselves only garbage and scorched earth. It's 100 percent going to happen if not to make tourism organized.
On the one hand, among the local people there are people who know every blade of grass in their region, but they do not perceive tourism as a business. On the other hand, there are businessmen who are far from nature, but who can see opportunities in the development of natural attractions…
Just due to the fact that local residents are not willing to admit to its territory a stranger, there is a consumer attitude. Tourists are enemies who seize territory and destroy it. We should build paths and the soil will not be trampled, put the toilets and they will not shit in the bushes. Take money for the infrastructure — the nature will be safe, and the money will remain his pocket.
The Russians is one of the most hospitable peoples of the world. They are ready to give the last shirt to a stranger. We are not used to pay us for the good impulses of the soul. But when tourists come, we do not perceive them as guests and we think they don't see us as hosts. Our work with local residents is based largely on personal likes and not on money.
In our region from time to time they raise the issue of rural tourism. Do you believe that it is possible to create?
In my practice we have never received such applications. The number of queries in Yandex confirms that in our country this direction is unpopular. Agritourism aimed at saving money. The owner of the farm is interested to save on workers' wages, tourists are interested in how not to pay for accommodation and meals. Those who have money, rarely want to spend a holiday bending over garden beds.
For students it can be ok — less money, new friends, the opportunity to see new places. But in Russia, many people have dachas and they can't understand why they should to work for free on someone else's field. I have never seen a person who takes a trip to dig potatoes as a rest. The famous strawberry picking in Finland only seems to be romantic — they really have to work hard here. This holiday will suit the units as a supplement to the main tour for a day or two, maybe. As a mass product — no.
Do you believe that tourism is the new oil? If yes, who will fuel this market — domestic consumer or foreign one?
Yes, I do. I cannot predict how soon it will happen. This may not happen at all. I do not divide on our guests and foreigners. The emphasis should be placed on a cool product. If the product is cool, it will give pleasure to both of them.