The coronavirus pandemic that swept the world in 2020 hit the tourism industry hard. Russia is no exception. By comparison, the number of travelers who visited the capital of our homeland during the first 9 months of 2020 was half as much as during the same period in 2019 - only 7 million people.
Despite this, Moscow has not lost its attractiveness for tourists. From mid-June to August of this year (when the coronavirus restrictions were lifted), the metropolis was visited by almost a third more domestic travelers than during the same period in 2019. In addition, despite the difficult epidemiological situation, the capital's authorities managed to strengthen international cooperation in the tourism market and even launched several projects in support of this important sector of the economy.
Contribution of the tourism industry to the capital's economy
The tourism industry is one of the key areas of the economic development of Moscow. First of all, this industry provides jobs for about 250 thousand of our compatriots. In addition, it makes a huge contribution to the economy of the metropolis through the procurement of goods and services by sectors directly related to the tourism industry, also due to the attraction of additional cash injections into the development of the capital's infrastructure.
In 2019, Moscow entered the top 20 most visited cities on the European continent. The metropolis squeezed such tourist giants as London, Paris and Amsterdam in the ranking. The total contribution of this sphere to the economy of the capital last year amounted to 147 billion rubles, and the share of revenues from tourist consumption in the city budget was more than 5%.
The increased flow of travelers had a positive impact on the volume of non-resource exports of the metropolis. Thus, Moscow has provided 31.7% (127 billion rubles) of exports of tourist services.
From mid-June to August 2020, when the coronavirus restrictions were lifted, more than 1.8 million people visited the capital. This is 30% more than it was in 2019. Despite the fact that our compatriots in general began to spend less money on tourist goods and services, in one summer month alone, Moscow's economy was enriched by 34 billion rubles.
And how is the hotel sector doing?
Developed hotel network is one of the key components of the entire tourism sector of the capital. It is easy to guess that the closing of borders because of COVID-19 significantly reduced the number of guests in hotels. In the first months of the pandemic about 1/3 of Moscow hotels suspended their activities, but in summer almost all of them reopened. At present there are about 1,400 hotels in the Moscow metropolitan area which are ready to receive travelers.
Many Moscow hotels assisted the authorities in fighting the coronavirus infection. For example, they provided temporary housing for medics in contact with the sick. Since this spring, Moscow hotels have provided 13 thousand rooms for doctors. The authorities supported such initiative by grants to the total sum of about 1,7 billion rubles. Moreover, they undertook to pay for the accommodation of the medical workers, provide them with food and necessary household services. Thus, doctors were provided with comfortable living conditions so that they didn't have to be distracted from their main task - fighting coronavirus infection and saving human lives.
Other support measures for the capital's tourism sector
Taking into account the high importance of tourism for the economy of the Russian Federation in general and of Moscow in particular, the authorities have developed a number of anti-crisis measures for the capital's organizations. Since the hotel industry was the hardest hit by the restrictions the owners of the guest enterprises were given the biggest bonuses. In addition to financial assistance in the form of grants, they received rental vacations. At present this measure of support was used by about 120 organizations and individual entrepreneurs. From March 1 to June 30 have been exempted from the need to pay rent about 140 hotels, so the entrepreneurs have saved about 130 million rubles.
Tourist enterprises in Moscow, belonging to small and medium-sized businesses, have also received from the authorities the benefits and subsidies. For example, compensation for housing and utilities costs and bank loan interest write-offs.
Many representatives of the tourist sphere tried to use the situation resulted from the pandemic to their advantage: to re-evaluate their product and receive new experience of cooperation with market participants of related industries. Here they were helped by the Moscow Committee on Tourism, which has developed and proposed several new projects.
For example, in February 2020, Moscow hosted Russia's first tourist hackathon, Moscow Travel Hack. The main theme of the event was the digitalization of the tourism industry, and the finalists received state support for the development of their projects. More than 250 teams of IT developers participated in the event.
As part of the same project, a set of anti-crisis events was held. These included webinars attended by leading travel industry experts. At the virtual meetings a wide range of the most relevant topics were discussed: from the tools of territorial marketing to issues of further development of the industry.
In May of this year, a digital platform called travelhub.moscow began operating. Its aim is to unite all representatives of the capital's tourism industry on one virtual platform. Here entrepreneurs can share their experience, develop fundamentally new tourist products together, agree on cooperation, and so on.
Another anti-crisis project is the online workshop "Moscow Speaks!", launched by Mosturizm. The program of the digital platform included a series of webinars, which helped entrepreneurs to get used to the new reality, learn about the world's leading trends in the tourism industry, etc.
Despite the difficult epidemiological situation, the current year has been marked by the launch of several innovative projects for the Moscow tourist industry. For example, by order of Moscow authorities digital service Russpass has been developed. Its purpose is to help tourists organize their trip. The portal is designed for both our compatriots and guests from abroad. With the help of Russpass you can choose the best route, book a hotel, rent a car, buy a museum ticket and much more. The site is overseen by the Moscow Committee for Tourism and the IT Department.