People, Travel

Tapping Into Russian Travel Market Expensive

Tapping Into Russian Travel Market ExpensiveTapping Into Russian Travel Market Expensive

Attracting Russian tourists is a priority for Iranian tourism officials, but tapping into the market is a costly affair.

"Entering the Russian market is expensive," said Ebrahim Pourfaraj, the head of Iranian Tour Operators' Society. "We've been waiting for tourism authorities to make a move so we can break into the market."

Pourfaraj told ISNA that the goal is to organize fam tours for 50 Russian tour operators to showcase Iran's attractions but nothing has been done to make that happen yet.

"We're continuously discussing the issue with Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to get them to cooperate with us," Pourfaraj added.

Fam tours are free (or low cost) trips for travel agents or consultants, provided by a country, travel operator or airline as a means of promoting their attractions and services. Even if fam tours are organized, it will fail to bear results without effective marketing in Russia.

"Getting tour operators to come here without promoting Iran on billboards and TV spots in Russia is meaningless; can't have one without the other," he said.

  Too Good to Pass Up

The official said Russia is too good of a market to pass up on, adding that now is the perfect time to attract Russians due to the favorable diplomatic relations between Tehran and Moscow.

"The diplomatic connection is there, but the problem is that Russians know nothing about Iran's attractions and what it can offer," he said.

Pourfaraj will lead a delegation to the Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (March 14-16), an event that he says is key to introducing Iran in Russia.

Iran and Russia have simplified the visa regime and are expected to waive visa requirements altogether by the end of the year. There are more direct flights between the two countries than ever before.

"If we can't break into the Russian market now, we never will," warned Pourfaraj.

At present, Iran’s Mahan Air and Russia’s Aeroflot fly between the two countries, connecting Moscow and Astrakhan to Tehran. Iran’s short-term goal is to draw 100,000 Russians a year, up from the current 25,000.

According to Rosstat (Russia’s state statistics service), nearly 35,000 Iranians visited Russia in 2015, which marks a rise of more than 110% compared to a year ago. About 70,000 Iranians are believed to have traveled to Russia in 2016, but no official figures have been released yet. Iran is said to be a top 20 tourism source market for Moscow.


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