Moscow has become one of the top twenty most frequented European cities, and the incoming tourist flow has almost doubled in size for the last eight years. In the nearest six years the capital might get shortlisted for the top ten. Moscow has everything it takes to achieve this goal, i.e. well-developed amenities, quality hotel service and a ramified public transport system.
From the US to China
The number of tourists visiting the capital is increasing year by year. In 2018 Moscow was visited by more than 23.5 million people. 18 million out of this number are the citizens of Russia. The rest making 5.5 million are foreigners.
The most part of visitors (803.6 thousand people) come from China. Germany (321.9 thousand people) holds the second position in the rating, France (149.3 thousand people) holds the third, and Israel (144.3 thousand people) – the fourth. The last in the top ten is the USA (137.8 thousand people). The capital was also visited by 56 million holiday makers who didn’t stay in the city for the night.
The most prominent event in 2018 was the World Football Cup which attracted 4.5 million visitors, and more than half of them were foreigners. Along with it the tourist flow from far-abroad countries increased by 71 per cent comparing to the same time period in 2017.
By the end of 2019 it is expected to have much more tourists in Moscow due to the positive feedback from people having recently visited Moscow or the ones having followed the live TV-broadcasts from Moscow on the World Cup dates.
According to the opinion poll data, collected for the first six months of the year 2019 and provided by the Moscow City Tourism Committee, the most frequent visitors of the capital are people aged less then 34. Moreover, as it is mentioned in the research made by the multinational consulting company Deliotte in 2019, the most active visitors are millennials. They visit the capital to get new impressions; they are attracted by numerous festivals, sporting events and cultural venues.
Those who were born later than in 1981 make 77.5 per cent out of all the Russian tourists flow and 63.6 per cent out of the total number of the visitors coming from far abroad.
Moscow attracts young visitors not only by its venues. Last year the city got into top ten of the world capital cities being the most affordable for the foreign tourists. Acording to the analysts’ calculations the average sum of expenses for a trip to Moscow is about 49 thousand rubles for the visitors coming from far abroad, 35 thousand for the visitors from near-abroad countries and 23 thousand for Russian citizens.
As it was mentioned by Sergey Shpilko, the President of Russian Union of Travel Industry, the basis of the Moscow attractiveness is not the city sights, but the city atmosphere: local communities, concert programs and exhibitions, public spaces, street performers, clean pedestrian areas. “Take the swings in Triumphal Square or the recreational craft parade along the Moskva River. In this relation the city has completely changed for the last nine years. Everything started from Gorky Park. Now the city has the feel of positive atmosphere everywhere, residential areas inclusive. Moscow has not only its own big city vibe now, but also its own charm yielding to no other city in the world. It has become fashionable at the travel service market” – says Sergey Shpilko.
Walking around Moscow
Almost every Moscow visitor goes to see Red Square first. There are some other top tourist attractions such as Sparrow Hills, the Television Tower of Ostankino, the Tretyakov Gallery, metro stations and the Arbat.
As early as in 2012 the Arbat was the only pedestrian street of the capital. Today there are more than 350 of them. The total length of the pedestrian areas has increased fivefold since 2011; as for this criteria, the city holds the seventh position in the world rating, and as for the park areas ratio, it is on the second one. It is not surprising then that the tourists prefer to walk around the city. They are mostly attracted by the renovated VDNKh (Exhibition of Economic Achievements) pavilions, numerous public gardens and waterfronts.
The city amenities became not only more comfortable, but also much more attractive – there aren’t any banners on the fronts of the houses and huge media displays were removed from the roofs of historic buildings. The amount of outdoor advertising was reduced eightfold. This year there will be even less of it, as after the banners were prohibited, the painted advertising on the fronts of the buildings was banned as well. There is still a chance that street art items will appear in these spaces instead and become one more landmark of the city then.
“Moscow is in big demand across the RF and abroad. We can easily see the way Moscow is able to break the stereotyped images of Russia in foreign visitors in just a couple of days. Earlier it was more typical for Moscow residents to visit Saint Petersburg, but today the residents of north-west regions come to the capital increasingly frequently” – noted Marina Levchenko, the CEO of the tour agency.
She added that Moscow became popular among foreign tourists from Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
Hotel room stock
In relation to the hotel service segment Moscow is one of the highly developed cities as in Russia as globally.
“Our hotel facilities are the most impressive in Europe. They receive hundreds of thousands of tourists, and most of them are amazed by the scales of the city as well as its beauty and tidiness. The competition in all market sectors from hostels to expensive hotels is high though. Business class hotel facilities in the capital are either almost new, recently built or renovated. It looks like Moscow itself really becomes the bestseller at the global travel services market” – noted Aleksey Vorobyov, the CEO of the Izmailovo hotel complexes.
According to him, due to this trend expenses go higher as well as profits. Property tax allowance, granted to the hotels in 2014 by the authorities of Moscow, helps to make this business profitable.
According to the results of the year 2018 the room stock increased twofold comparing to the year 2010. For this time period 53 new hotels with almost ten thousand rooms were built. In the capital there are 1.7 thousand hotels and guest houses, ready for service, with the total amount of 82.9 thousand rooms for 232.9 thousand guests. As it has been initially estimated, this year 17 more hotels will be put in service.
The average cost of the room is five thousand rubles which is twice cheaper than in Amsterdam, Paris and London. Staying at the five-star hotel will cost about 9.2 thousand rubles. Just to compare the room at a hotel of the same level in Oslo, Copenhagen or Paris will cost 20 thousand minimum.
Thanks to affordable prices and availability of the rooms the number of hotel guests increased threefold and achieved the mark of 14 million people. Whereas the hotels are booked for 77 percent. On the World Football Cup days the booking at the Moscow hotels broke all records, achieving the mark of 90 percent. On the last winter holidays the figures were the same.
One of the key factors for the development of the domestic tourism is the event tourism, being actively developed for the last years. Festivals have already become the landmark of the capital. Last year Moscow won the World Festival and Event City Award international prize in the category World Best Festival and Public Event City.
The judges especially distinguished the organization of public events in the framework of the Moscow Seasons series of events. More than 30 festivals were held since 2012. In 2018 they were visited by 65 million people which is 11 times more than in the first festival year. Last winter about 18.6 million guests visited the Journey to Christmas festival.
Besides, in 2018 Moscow was shortlisted for the top ten cities with the best Christmas fairs according to The Daily Telegraph. As urbanists note, no other world capital can boast of such a diversity of New Year entertainments and street decorations.
From planes to trams
Two years ago, at the Global Public Transport Summit UITP in Montreal Moscow was acknowledged the world best city in relation of transport system integrated development. Four international airports (Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky), as well as nine train stations, located almost in the city center, are ready to receive tourists. This system is being constantly developed.
It is also possible to get to the city center by taxi. Since 2010 the number of taxi cars increased sixfold, with 50 thousand cars today. The vehicle pickup time span has reduced until five or seven minutes. For the last eight years this sector has become more competitive, which made it possible to reduce the travel cost.
If the arrival time falls on rush hours, you can get to the city center from any airport by aeroexpress train. Its terminals are located at the stations of the circle metro railway.
It got much easier to travel around the city as well. There are more than 250 metro stations and more than 30 commuting hubs in the capital; by the end of the year it is planned to open the traffic lines in two Moscow central diameters to provide the transport links from the capital to the Moscow region. To pay your fare it is possible to use a travel card Troika, which is used as a travel pass for all kinds of public transport.
Gastronomy tourism in Moscow style
One of the fast developing trends in the domestic tourism is gastronomy tourism. In Moscow there are about 12 thousand cafes, snack-bars and restaurants, which is twice more than ten years ago. Gourmet festivals are held every year, and three Moscow festivals were shortlisted for the global rating of The World’s Best Restaurants.
New gastronomy spaces such as Danilovsky, Usachevsky and Central markets or Depo Food Mall are opening, and Moscow residents and the city guests visit them to taste fine cuisine from different countries of the world. More and more gastronomy tourist spots such as Kuznetsky Most, Bolshaya Dmitrovka, the Arbat, Patriarch Ponds etc. appear on the Moscow plan.
According to the restaurant owner Sergey Mironov, for the last five years due to the food embargo and high competition the quality of food in restaurants has been improved: “For the last ten years the gastronomy which is attractive for tourists has appeared. There is increased focus on local foods. Foreigners like it, so there is a big flow of tourists from abroad. They are keen on the idea to taste the Kamchatka wild salmon, king crabs and Sakhalin scallop shells”.
Safer than in Paris
According to the data from Numbeo research database, in the global rating of the safest cities Moscow holds higher positions than New York, Paris, London, Rome and Barcelona. According to the results of the research done in 2019 by the British organization The Economist Intelligence and The Economist journal, the capital of the RF got into the list of the biggest world cities with high safety rating.
With the time safety in the city started to have top priority. Since June 1, 2014 special tourist police branch was established in Moscow; tourist police officers patrol the pedestrian areas in the city center and major touristic routes.
On the World Cup dates in 2018 tourist police was maintaining order and helped tourists not to get lost in the city. Many foreigners get surprised when they found out that tourist police officers speak not only Russian but also English, German and Chinese languages.
Common information center number, navigation signage and easy-to-use services
Moscow offers wide range of services which makes tourists’ staying in the city as comfortable as possible. For all these years the capital developed special quality standards as well as special programs for tourists from China, Japan, India, Israel and many other countries. Last year in Moscow and in some other cities of the RF the Tax Free system was implemented, which lets foreign tourists get the VAT refund on their shopping.
Convenient navigation signage was made specially for the city guests; the names of all metro stations, train and bus stations and even the names of some parks are given not only in English, but also in Chinese.
Moscow continues to develop the tourist services. To help tourists find their way around the city, new city plans were made in Russian, English and Chinese in August. Tourists can get them for free at the hotels, museums and parks. From the beginning of August there is a short common phone number 122; on this number you can contact the twenty-four-hour call center and get any information you need.
Tourism is very important for the world economy. Last year UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) placed on record 1.54 billion international touristic arrivals all over the world. It is six per cent more than a year before. By 2030 this number is expected to reach the mark of 1.8 billion people. It is evident that the global trend is applicable to Moscow as well; the RF capital in its turn is ready for the increasing tourist flow. It has all the necessary amenities and regards the tourism sector development as on of its priorities.