Moscow Calling: Anastasia Popova on Exploring Moscow

A rare insight into the Russian Travel and Tourism industry in the words of Anastasia Popova, Director of Congress, Exhibition, and Industry Projects, Moscow City Tourism Committee.


anastasia-popova-head-of-the-directorate-of-congress-exhibition-and-industry-projects-moscow-city-tourism-committeeWhy did you decide to come to Saudi Arabia for the first time right now?

We started working on the development of this destination as part of the roadshow back in 2021, holding the event in an online format; further, we held an offsite roadshow in early 2022, in which companies from Dubai and Abu Dhabi took part. Even then, having seen the potential and results of work in this direction, we decided to organize a roadshow in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia being the first one to visit.vdnh-golden-spike-fountain_%d1%84%d0%be%d0%bd%d1%82%d0%b0%d0%bd-_%d0%b7%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%be%d1%82%d0%be%d0%b8%cc%86-%d0%ba%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%be%d1%81_

By the way, in September 2022, representatives of the tourism industry from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait visited Moscow as part of a FAM trip, which demonstrated the genuine interest of the Middle East tourism industry in working with Moscow. Representatives of the Moscow and Middle East tourism industry held about 400 business meetings; certain agreements were reached. Our task is to maintain and increase these contacts, to make every effort to ensure that relations between our travel companies develop and lead to visible results, that is why we decided to organize a roadshow in Riyadh.

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What are your prospects for this market?

Now we are planning to facilitate the continuation of active communication between the representatives of Moscow and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tourism industry after the B2B negotiations, work towards the development of the already established interaction and bring this process to fruition.

We also hope to introduce the electronic visa: the list approved by the President of Russia includes 52 countries, including Saudi Arabia as well.

Grotto pavilion with reflection in park Kuskovo, Moscow, Russia

Grotto pavilion with reflection in park Kuskovo, Moscow, Russia

How many tourists from Saudi Arabia are already visiting Moscow? What KPIs are you planning to achieve?

In the period 2015-2019, the flow of tourists to Moscow from Saudi Arabia increased by more than 3.5 times. In 2021, about 4,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia visited Moscow.

At the same time, in recent years we have seen an increased interest in Moscow among tourists from the Middle East. For example, in 2021, the Middle East accounted for about 24% of tourists from non-CIS countries.vdnh-aerospace-and-aviation-centre_%d1%86%d0%b5%d0%bd%d1%82%d1%80-_%d0%ba%d0%be%d1%81%d0%bc%d0%be%d0%bd%d0%b0%d0%b2%d1%82%d0%b8%d0%ba%d0%b0-%d0%b8-%d0%b0%d0%b2%d0%b8%d0%b0%d1%86%d0%b8%d1%8f_

In addition, we very much hope that an electronic visa for Saudi Arabia will soon be launched, which makes it much easier for tourists from this country to come to Moscow.

The record year for the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia was 2018, the year of the World Cup. That year more than 12 thousand tourists from Saudi Arabia visited Moscow. We think that these indicators are worth striving for.

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What would you recommend to pay attention to tourists from Saudi Arabia if they are going to Moscow for the first time?

What we note for ourselves is, of course, that every tourist who comes to Moscow first visits Red Square goes to places that he already knows. However, our most important task is to show Moscow in all its diversity. We show those objects that are not visible at first.vdnh-aerospace-and-aviation-centre_%d1%86%d0%b5%d0%bd%d1%82%d1%80-_%d0%ba%d0%be%d1%81%d0%bc%d0%be%d0%bd%d0%b0%d0%b2%d1%82%d0%b8%d0%ba%d0%b0-%d0%b8-%d0%b0%d0%b2%d0%b8%d0%b0%d1%86%d0%b8%d1%8f_-1

If you are in Moscow for the first time and want to get an unforgettable first impression, there is a huge range of options: for example, immediately after walking along Red Square, get acquainted with the Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation; take a boat trip along the Moscow River and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city; take a walk in the Zaryadye park and look at plants from all over Russia. All these unique impressions, and even more, Moscow is ready to offer its tourists.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Is Moscow ready to accept tourists from Saudi Arabia, taking into account cultural and religious characteristics? What has already been done to welcome guests?

Moscow has all the conditions for accepting tourists, taking into account the specifics of their mentality and religious characteristics. There is an international center for standardization and certification “Halal” in Moscow, which, for example, enables accommodation facilities to comply with these standards. Hotels accept guests, taking into account all the nuances and features. Moscow has a sufficient number of restaurants of various levels with options for serving Halal cuisine.

This is one of the many examples regarding the reception of tourists from the countries of the Middle East.

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Many tourists may wonder about their safety during their stay in Moscow. How can you comment on this?

Moscow is one of the safest cities – here you can safely walk in the evening. The capital even has its own special tourist police, whose employees know several foreign languages and are always ready to help foreigners.

Moscow also makes sure that guests can navigate the city space: the transport system and navigation, translated into English, guarantee tourists comfortable movement around the city. Moreover, experienced English-speaking specialists – professional Moscow guides in tourist information centers are always happy to help tourists.

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Tell us about the key events for the upcoming season. What should our tourists pay attention to?

Of course, Moscow is rich not only in its tourist infrastructure but also in the events that are constantly held on city sites. It can be both educational excursions to the most beautiful objects on display in our city, and festivals, concerts, professional exhibitions, and forums. In other words, our guests always have a wide choice.

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Moscow is known as an expensive destination. Will it be able to satisfy the needs of our discerning tourists? Tell us a little about the “luxury” product in Moscow.

There is no doubt that Moscow is a city with a great variety of luxury 5-star services, such as chauffeur services for VIP clients.

If we talk about activities and pastimes in the city, we can cite exclusive sightseeing tours of Moscow by helicopter or completely new formats, such as an immersive project that combines visual art and gastronomy in the Moscow restaurant “Krasota”. Moscow has a lot to offer for even the most sophisticated guests.

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