The restoration of the tourist flow to Saint Petersburg in full is expected within the next one and a half to two years, Chairman of the Saint-Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development, Sergey Korneev, said in an interview with TASS on Monday.
"When the epidemiological situation stabilizes, we will face the problem of how bring back the tourists. Because the global and Russian competition, competition between travel agencies, accommodation facilities, hotel chains and transport companies for tourists will increase. The tourist flow will be restored - I have no doubt about it. The World tourism organization states it t would take up to four-six years for the tourism sector to return to its normal levels. Our goal is to achieve that faster, in one and a half to two years. In previous crises, tourism as an economic sector demonstrated the highest "survival" and "pulled" dozens of related industries after it. if progress in treatment succeeds in effectively combating the disease, it will happen again," Korneev said.
According to the chairman, Saint Petersburg this year may lose about 70-80% of the tourist flow under the most pessimistic scenario, "in the best case-it depends primarily on the epidemiological situation - 50-60%".
The return of tourists to the city will be gradual, because for the first time after the restrictions are lifted, people, despite the increased need for travel due to forced self-isolation, will carefully weigh the risks and safeness of a particular direction, the head of the Committee noted. «Here the city also has a competitive advantage: we have one the largest sanatorium and resort complex in the Northern region, primarily in our resort area. We will pay special attention to it, because, firstly, the cataclysm of Covid-19 offers an opportunity to reshape health, and secondly, we have unique natural healing factors to do so - the Baltic sea, coniferous air, mineral waters and much more," he said, adding that " St. Petersburg in partnership with the Leningrad region offers all types of tourism."
Tourism in the economy of Saint Petersburg
According to the head of the Committee, the virus clearly showed how important tourism was for Saint Petersburg, for the country and for the world.
"What is tourism for Saint Petersburg in numbers? The direct contribution of the tourism industry to the city's GRP last year amounted to 4.4% or 209 billion rubles, which is comparable, for example, with the construction activities that have been increasing the pace of housing and and making a significant contribution to the city's economy. At the same time, tourism has the greatest multiplier effect: it creates jobs in the tertiary sector and also gives an impetus to the development of new creative spaces and entire territories of the city, which were not so obvious before. The industry provides jobs for at least 100 thousand people," Korneev said.
The share of tourism in the GRP in 2019 was 6%. "Last year, the growth of tourism GRP reached the maximum value from last five years- 124.1%, which is 4.8 times more than the growth of GRP in St. Petersburg as a whole. In other words, tourism is not only an essential economic part of the city's life, but also one of the main drivers of its development," Korneev commented.
According to official data, the flow of foreign tourists to the city has almost doubled over the past four years. If in 2015 there were 2.8 million, in 2019 - already 4.9 million tourists. In terms of foreign exchange earnings, over the past five years, the tourism industry in St. Petersburg has more than doubled its export volume (in 2019 - $3.14 billion). At the same time, the share of tourism is almost half of Saint Petersburg's non-resource exports (in 2019 − 44.5%).