Russia is third in the world in terms of the number of its citizens who travel abroad. China is second. In 2011, some 235,000 Chinese nationals visited Russia, which was 48% higher than in 2010. It is expected that the number of tourists travelling between Russia and China in 2012 will reach 3.3 million people.
The Year of Russian Tourism in China and the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia held in 2012 and 2013 will undoubtedly become milestones in Chinese-Russian relations and will strengthen strategic cooperation and partnership between the two countries.
Growing tourism opportunities for China and Russia
Russia is third in the world in terms of the number of its citizens who travel abroad. China is second. In 2011, some 235,000 Chinese nationals visited Russia, which was 48% higher than in 2010. Russia is 11th on the list of countries visited by Chinese tourists. This figure shows, on the one hand, that there are untapped opportunities in tourism (due in part to the lack of tourist information offered by both countries) and, on the other hand, that bilateral cooperation in this area has great potential. It is expected that the number of tourists travelling between Russia and China in 2012 will reach 3.3 million people. This would be a great success.
China and Russia both possess huge cultural and natural riches that should be more actively exploited. Tourist agencies in both countries must coordinate efforts to seek out new forms and mechanisms of cooperation and focus on improving the quality of tourism-related services. Russia has an abundance of tourism resources, from historical sites to beautiful landscapes that attract more and more Chinese tourists. The Chinese have a sincere and long-held affection for Russia. Almost every Chinese person can sing “Podmoskovniye Vechera.” Many Chinese tourists dream about visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg.
It is certain that such major events as the 2012 APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Vladivostok, the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup will trigger a new wave of interest in Russia among Chinese tourists.
Tourism is the best way to promote interaction and mutual trust
The Year of Tourism is the natural step in the development of Chinese-Russian relations, following the Year of Russian and Chinese Languages, the Year of China in Russia and the Year of Russia in China. It is another opportunity for our people to expand mutual understanding and learn more about the life of their neighbors, their tourist destinations and natural attractions – to share neighborly and friendly feelings.
The significance of the Year of Tourism goes beyond the scope of the tourism industry. This initiative will ensure the intensive development of many aspects of strategic cooperation and partnership. Tourism will help our peoples to strengthen their long-term friendship and provide a popular foundation for bilateral relations. The Year of Tourism is the best way to strengthen mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples.
Tourism fosters economic cooperation between our countries, spurs economic development, and generates revenue at the regional and local levels. It should be noted that tourism is one of the key areas of cultural cooperation between China and Russia. Security is an essential prerequisite for attracting tourists. Tourist agencies in both countries must continue to enhance general travel safety and security.
Developing tourism cooperation in border regions
Regions on the border between China and Russia play an important role in the development of tourism. Heilongjiang Province and Russia’s Far East have plenty of tourist attractions. Lake Baikal as well as the thermal springs and active volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula are becoming more attractive tourist destinations for the people of northeastern China. People from northeastern China have a great interest in such cities as Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk. Meanwhile, the volcanoes of Wudalianchi Geological Park are a favorite destination of tourists from Russia’s Far East.
Heilongjiang Province markets its mineral and thermal springs as resorts and holiday destinations for those seeking to improve health and wellbeing. I visited Heilongjiang recently and had a chance to see the excitement of local people about the Year of Tourism. Currently, a memorandum of cooperation is being drafted between Heilongjiang Province and the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha), the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region. The memorandum aims at expanding tourism cooperation between China and Russia.
Our countries have set themselves the task of improving the quality of tourist services in border regions. Tourism is an important revenue stream for the Chinese border cities Heihe and Suifenhe. Over 30 travel routes have been opened recently along the Chinese-Russian border.
The Year of Russian Tourism in China and the Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia will mark an important step towards further strategic cooperation between the two countries, which is good news for many travel enthusiasts.