Tourism in/to Russia

Thanks to last weeks blog and the war-situation between Russia and Georgia, this week, I had a rather emotional and some more reasoned discussions about the Russian Tourism Market. There are many obstacles that were addressed, but I found only very few being valid.
» Understanding travel as an economic factor. According to Wikipedia, travel is one of the top three economic factors world wide. Easing (leisure) travel to and from a country is a cash cow for the country.

» Infrastructure. People travel everywhere, they are found in the middle of the Amazonas. It cannot really be the infrastructure. Only if there is justification by people traveling somewhere, infrastructures are building themselves. Funny, the people who traveled there for the “untouched nature” then are replaced by the masses expecting the bus to take them somewhere to watch “untouched nature”. People breaking their bones for taking the cable car up into the mountains walking there with inadequate footwear!

» Language. I love doing my vacation in Spain, but my Spanish is rudimentary at best. But I learn enough to get around. People go to Greece and cannot read Greek either, less understand it.
Where language is a limiting factor is when Russians want to address another market. There are flights from Frankfurt to Saratov (14th largest Russian city!) and you can purchase tickets only at the airport…?
It is important to understand that as much as we ourselves may ponder reservations about Russia, the Russians ponder reservations about us. It”s important to overcome such reservations, but that only works with trust, not by overpowering it!

» Technology. The Internet made it”s way to Russia. For students, Internet is quite “normal”. The (commercial) e-Commerce still is sometimes very badly addressed. There is quite some potential there! But keep in mind these vast distances!

» Visa. The requirements for visa are counter-productive to any country, but other countries require visa too and they prosper. I just hope that Russia lowers visa-bureaucracy.

PlattenbauOther issues:
I was very much concerned hearing that virtually all mail is opened, I admit, I was not used to that in the “western hemisphere” and it strikes me very “old-fashined”, reminding me of the times of a cold war. But (except maybe for George Bush) that is history and it is difficult to overcome old habbits. Like myself. Forced to look into the Russian market I found many images in my head being simply wrong and outdated. I watch recent TV travel reports about Russia, seeing the wrong, outdated image they show. But all truths I learn impress me. There is another “tiger”-industry waking up.

We all know that the U.S. “land of the free” is only the land of the “adjusted”. Black”s to date are second class citizens, slums exist in every township there, there is Guantanamo and the Homeland Security under the cloak of “war against terrorism” adds more eavesdropping daily. Germany, “partner” in that “war against terrorism” (and approach towards a totally controlled society) is strangled by commercial lobbies. If that is the “good”, I must admit, I prefer Putin”s way to keep the oligarchs and the commerce strictly out of government. Freely quoted from Wikipedia: Do what you want, but don”t interfere with the politics.

Then a German feedback claimed Siberia as “fallen behind”. If I go just 30 km”s out of Leipzig, there are ghost towns. Visit Halle or other small cities in East Germany. Did the luxury of “civilization” equalize these areas with the West German regions? Far far missed that goal! Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin are the main centers of commerce, as are Moscow and St. Petersburg. It takes time to build up infrastructure, but even in Saratov students enjoy modern PCs and Internet…

About the war, German ZDF-TV pointed out very correctly: It”s another powergame by America (namely Cowboy George Bush), trying to secure the pipeline (= oil = energy = power) bypassing Russia there. They position rockets in Poland. All very “friendly” gestures? For experts a Russian reaction was overdue. Again, this was the summary of a special report by renowned ZDF.

My summary about the many discussions on Russia last week.

Remember: This blog is called food for thought and I do like your feedback, it is your feedback that makes me post here!

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