Russia Lacey Jay Moore-15597284

I want to take you on a journey.

A journey spanning 11 time zones, almost twice the size of USA. (Boniface and Cooper, 2009, 379)

Russia, the world’s largest country, holds a lot of culture resulting in an immense selection of art, music, and food! (Lew, Hall, and Timothy, 2008)

The vast history overflows from the streets! The Hermitage, globally one of the largest art collections is housed in the Tsars’ Winter Palace. (Boniface and Cooper, 2009, 383)

Image 1: The Jordan Staircase at The Hermitage Art Gallery (Source:, 2016)

Not to mention the events industry! Every year there is a calendar’s worth of various events and festivals. An example is the Golden Mask Festival, from March-April, celebrating the previous years’ opera, ballet, and theatre releases! (, 2016)

As 21st century travellers, we are more mobile than ever. Mobilities are the large scale movements of people and information globally, including the small scale movements through public space and the travel of everyday things. (Hannam, Sheller & Urry, 2006: 1).

Harvard Business Review says, ‘an experience is not an amorphous construct; companies simply wrap experiences around traditional offerings to sell them better.’ (Pine II and Gilmore, 1998). More often than not, we are conditioned to feel an emotion during advertisements; heightening the chance of us unknowingly buying into the experience economy.

These concepts are linked to not only this topic, but our everyday lives as we are forever on the go, whether it be for work or leisure, and we’re always looking for our next dose of excitement.

After visiting, you should:

• Have knowledge about Russian tourism and events, including cultural and natural heritage sites.

• Be able to realistically assess whether Russia would be a feasible host of a large scale event

• Be clear about transport availability in Russia and therefore be able to potentially make good use of it during an event

Travel flows

Figure 1: International tourist arrivals, Europe 2015-2016 (UNWTO, 2016, 6)

Figure 1 shows how Russia had a 5% tourist arrivals increase in 2015 on 2014, probably thanks to the cheaper rouble. This is reflective of the 5% overall European growth, reaching 608 million arrivals and equalling 51% of the global total. They also moved down one place from 2014 to sit 10th in tourist arrivals (UNWTO, 2016). This shows how 2014 was the year to visit Russia for the Olympics, and the following year is simply a reflection of the country and its visitors calming back down after the Olympics.

Figure 2: Evolution of rooms, with number of bed-places (NeTour, 2014, 17)

Figure 2 is representative of Russian tourism increasing in 2006-2010. This graph shows how the increasing numbers of visitors affects the industry, but this number will likely be much bigger now thanks to the Sochi Games.

One worrying aspect of the Russian tourism industry is that there are few Russian companies! Stupachenko says, ‘the number [of companies] declined further by a dramatic 70% in 2015, and this year is predicted to see a decrease by a further 50% due to recession and reduce of demand.’ This comes as a warning to those booking a trip through a Russian company, as in 2014 it wasn’t unheard of for them to go bankrupt. (Stupachenko, 2016)

Domestic Travel

Domestic travel has recently become an integral part of the tourism industry, with the number of trips taken by Russians into other European locations has dropped by 30-50% in 2015 from 2014, making it the largest decrease in the last twenty years. This is linked to the lessening value of the ruble, the ban on flights to Egypt, and also a lower average income for the people of Russia (Stupachenko, 2016).

Image 2: Ski resort in Sochi. (Source: Sochi Travel Info, 2010)

Saying that, there has been an 18% increase of the number of Russians actually taking part in domestic travel, taking the total to over 50 million in 2015! The favourite destinations amongst these travelers are said to be those with good infrastructure, such as Moscow and Sochi. Thanks to the winter Olympics, occupancy in Sochi’s ski resorts is at an all-time high of 80% during the summer months! (, 2016). According to Stupachenko, booking a hotel room in Sochi during summer is now more difficult than getting an autograph from Putin himself!


Getting to Russia is the easy part! You can get the daily train from Paris through Berlin to Moscow, or go from Berlin/Warsaw to Moscow/St. Petersburg. This is the cheapest route, costing approximately 150 euros and taking 24 hours (, 2015). You can also take the Trans-Siberian Express, taking you to the heart of a number of cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, thus affecting prices (Russia Experience, 2015).

Image 3: Map of all direct train routes to and from Russia (, 2015)

Alternatively, you can find your way there by plane; only two hours from Berlin and three from London! A return flight from a major European city would usually cost between 200-400 euros (, 2015). Air travel is well developed as there are 140 airports, four of which are in Moscow, and two in St. Petersburg! (, 2016).

It’s just as easy to get around! In St. Petersburg, the metro costs one euro per trip. You can also get the aquabus; the scenic way to travel, originally used to reduce road congestion! Finally, you can travel by tram if you wish, which is the most successful form of travel in Russia; carrying 950 million passengers in 1990 alone! (, 2016)

Attractions and Events

There are countless things to do and see in Russia!

One of the most popular events is the Golden Mask Festival, between March-April every year; a celebration of the previous year’s opera, ballet, and theatre releases in Moscow! Another favourite is the Stars of the White Nights Festival where Mariinsky’s ballet and opera companies do a themed performance between May-July, and not to mention the St. Petersburg Beer Festival. In June-July, the whole city comes together to throw a huge street party with parades and fireworks! (, 2016)

Image 4: Golden Mask Festival Awards Ceremony. (Freedman, 2011)

Alternatively, some of the most picturesque destinations can be found in Russia, including the Golden Mountains of Altai. This is a major mountain range in Western Syberia which provides a source for some of its greatest rivers; The OB and The Irtysh. It is also home to a number of endangered species, like the snow leopard. There are a number of other World Heritage sites, including the Lena Pillars Natural Park; with 100m rock pillars and containing unique Cambrian fossils, and the famous Volcanoes of Kamchatka (UNESCO, 2016). These sites are attractive to visitors and tourists as they are perfect for those who love outdoor activities such as walking and hiking! The locations are so picturesque, not to mention home to endangered animals; this really is something you can’t find elsewhere!

Image 5: Volcanoes of Kamchatka (UNESCO, 2016)

As if all this wasn’t enough to endear you to Russia, there’s more! Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a 19th century composer who is renowned for Swan Lake, has several museums based around his life and work! Musical artefacts can be found in his childhood home; a real touch of authenticity on such timeless pieces. The onion domes of St. Petersburg are famous for their colourful and unusual design. The shape of them are thought to represent a candle, as they are found atop Churches. They’re also found in groups of three in order to represent the Holy Trinity! Finally, there is the fame of the Russian ballet! The Bolshoi Ballet was founded in 1776 in Moscow, and the Mariinsky Ballet founded in St. Petersburg, and seeing these centuries-old groups still lead the dance world is magnificent (Bradford, 2016).

Bolshoi Ballet Theatre
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's final resting place

These cultural sites are favourite among international and domestic tourists as it provides a perfect form of escapism for those looking to loose themselves in the past.

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Why was Sochi chosen for the winter Olympics when it is actually the warmest place in Russia? The choice was made as it is a favourite destination of the President, Vladimir Putin, and wanted it to be seen as a symbol of his international legitimacy (The Economist, 2014). The games cost a staggering 55 billion euros, taking first place for most expensive Olympic Games (per event) ever! Over 1.1 million tickets were sold, which resulted in bringing 100,000 visitors from 124 countries into the Olympic Village every single day! (Mulller, 2015)

Figure 3: Comparison of cost and cover overruns of Winter Games in Sochi, in comparison to the last 10 years of Olympics (Muller, 2015)

As you can see from figure 3, each event, on average, was over twice as expensive as those at London 2012! Alternatively, they were more expensive than Athens 2004 by twelve fold! This staggering amount of money is unbelievable, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to just see the magnitude of which the games were on.

It has been said that the height of Olympic spending isn’t actually anything to do with sport, its main priority is based around the rebranding of a city for potential investors. This is because the brand new, state of the art infrastructure as well as bridges, roads, and transport terminals are all key to the future attractiveness of a location. According to Guillen, there was, ‘Too much spending and too little effort. It will continue to be a summer resort town for Russians,’ (Bender, 2014).

An old saying goes, ‘If I knew a card trick, I’d live in Sochi.’ This is reflective of its reputation as a seedy resort, known for its holiday sex and illegitimate black marketers (The Economist, 2014) and therefore suggesting that this place was in need of a long overdue make-over.


One strength of Russia is that there is a lot of culture. There are at least 190 ethnic groups, speaking in excess of 100 minority languages, with over 5,000 registered religious associations! (Bradford, 2015). This is a great quality for a country to have as wherever there is culture and history; there is a wide range of things for international tourists, as well as domestic tourists, to learn and experience.

In terms of the tourism and events industry, there really is something for everyone to do and see depending on their subjective interests. If its arts you’re into, you can visit the Bolshoi Ballet or The Hermitage Art Gallery, and if its food and drink you’re into, then you can head straight to the St. Petersburg Beer Festival; the nation’s favourite street party! (, 2016).

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games provided a well needed re-vamp of the city and therefore restored it with life and potential for new visitors. This is a good opportunity in Russia as there are now even more places for tourists to stay and make memories, such as making use of the Olympic infrastructure, thus making it a great holiday or event destination (Bender, 2014).

On the other hand, not only is there a lack of nightlife, but there is also a shortage of accommodation, especially in big city centres. This is due to travel companies booking them in advance and in big numbers, therefore making it more difficult for independent travellers to find somewhere to stay (Boniface and Cooper, 2009). This is a major weakness of the tourism industry in Russia as if there’s nowhere for people to stay, then they simply can’t come! No doubt this will takes years to overcome, but for the moment it is definitely taking Russia off the list of ‘last minute’ city break destinations.

Key Recommendations

Russia is the perfect place to have a cultural festival as it is literally brimming with culture and history itself! It would be a good idea to have the festival in one of the major cities, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, as there are fantastic forms of transportation in and around the city, like the metro or tram in St. Petersburg (, 2016). It is also easier than ever to get to these cities, as they have six major airports combined! (, 2016). Not only is it child’s play to get there, but once you’re actually in the city there is a whole host of things to do and experience. This broadens the appeal of the festival as the visitors can also explore the city as well as the festival, therefore giving them more reasons to come to the event in the first place!

in conclusion...

Despite the cold weather and snow for a large part of the year (Lew, Hall, and Timothy, 2008), the culture and heritage really makes up for that. There is a generous calendar consisting of food, drink, and art-based events, such as the Stars of the White Nights Festival or the St. Petersburg Beer Festival (, and also world heritage sites of nature that are sure to stand the test of time. If you’re into hiking and outdoor activities, you can visit one of the many UNESCO sites, for example the Golden Mountains of Altai, as well as many others (UNESCO, 2016). The transport links are fantastic as well, allowing you to get there by train or by plane! Perfect for inter-railers and the individual traveller.

Whatever you want, Russia is sure to have it!

Take the plunge, you know you want to!


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Created By
Lacey Moore


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