Moving onto Asia, are countries in the Asia Pacific Region an important market for the St. Petersburg MICE business?
Without a doubt, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region are among the most promising markets in terms of international tourism. The inbound flow of tourists from this part of the world to St. Petersburg before the pandemic was 53 percent of the total number of foreign tourists. This number grew by an average of 10 to 15 percent yearly. Russia was among the top ten countries most often visited by Asian tourists.
If so, which of the Asian countries have become MICE markets for St. Petersburg?
We were in India, where the St. Petersburg Convention Bureau presented the potential of tourism in St. Petersburg at the MILT Congress in Mumbai, which was held this summer. This was followed with the convention bureau in Hong Kong, at the 36th International Tourism Exhibition International Travel Expo.
How will you market St. Petersburg to Asia as a destination through digital platforms, trade shows, and familiarisation tours?
The participation of St. Petersburg in international road shows and exhibitions will allow direct communication with the target audience. This autumn, road shows are planned in Mumbai, Delhi, Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Preliminary negotiations have been made by St. Petersburg Convention Bureau with a communication company from China, on the possibilities of promoting St. Petersburg as a tourist destination, on the platform of their new mobile travel application.
The application will allow, not only to find all the useful information about the country and city where the tourist would like to go, but also to immediately book a ready-made tour. The service is aimed at users from China, Malaysia and Thailand.
Asia has a young millennial population, has St. Petersburg designed attractions for this segment of the population?
St. Petersburg is a modern and dynamic city that attracts young travellers like a magnet. By the way, Russians recognise St. Petersburg as the most romantic city in the country, as well as being the premier student and educational capital.
In cooperation with members of the hospitality industry, the Committee for Tourism Development of St. Petersburg is developing new tourist geography – a project that includes new points of attraction in the tourist map of the city, along with classic sights. The objects of the new cultural and tourist geography are, public spaces, platforms for IT, creative industry specialists and art clusters.
In addition, the sectors of the new cultural and tourist geography cover gastronomic establishments, atmospheric restaurants and cafes of the most diverse formats, from street food to high-molecular cuisine. Gastronomic tourism is one of the most promising areas in the development of the hospitality industry.
What would you say attracts event organisers from Asia to hold their events or organise incentive groups to St. Petersburg?
The City Committee for Tourism Development of the St. Petersburg organises various levels of events, on different scales and in a turnkey format, with both comprehensive and affordable proposals. Opportunities of business sites, hotels, restaurants, cultural, sightseeing, tourist programs in the city are all combined into all-inclusive package offered by St. Petersburg.
At the same time, the city has accumulated a lot of experience in holding significant international events, in various fields of sports, cultural, and business. It’s recognised that St. Petersburg’s level of hospitality is the best in the country, and has been repeatedly acclaimed with Russian and international awards.
Would you say that as a business tourism destination, there are also opportunities for event organisers or incentive groups to explore destinations outside the city of St. Petersburg. Can you name two destinations that would be of interest?
These are cities for example such as Vyborg, Pskov, Veliky Novgorod, Murmansk. Currently the Committee for the Development of Tourism of St. Petersburg, together with partner regions in the interregional cultural and historical project “Silver Necklace of Russia”, is creating an endless travel constructor, a fan shaped network of routes from St. Petersburg to the North-West. These destinations can be attractive both for cultural and educational recreation, and for offsite business events of various formats
Can you share with us the 10 best things to do in St. Petersburg?
I would suggest that you visit the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress or take a walk in the Summer Gardens. There is the Tsarkoye Selo and a stroll over to Catherine Palace. Then there is the Mariinsky Theatre to watch a ballet or listen to an opera. Not to be missed is the Kronstadt, a new tourist cluster or “Island of Forts”. The fountains of St. Petersburg the Peterhof, and not far from this is the park Alexandria.
When the sun sets, head for the bay, where the city meets the sea in the public space of SevkanelPort. Play mini golf in the historical centre of the city at the public space of Nikolskyiye ryady. Finally don’t miss trying out some delicious dishes of Petersburg cuisine.