Year of Russian Tourism begins in China.

Year of Russian Tourism begins in China.

On March 23 China launched the Year of Russian Tourism

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin exchanged messages of greetings on this occasion.

Jiabao noted that tourism “is the most natural and effective way to promote exchanges and friendship of our two peoples. With rich tourism resources, both China and Russia are major tourism countries.” He expressed the hope that “the launching of the Year of Russian Tourism in China will boost tourism cooperation between our two countries.”

In his message of greetings Putin emphasized that the Year of Russian Tourism in China reflects the dynamic development of Russian-Chinese cooperation in politics, the economy and the humanitarian sphere and points to the continuous consolidation of bilateral cooperation in world affairs. “Our Chinese friends will have an opportunity to familiarise themselves with Russia’s modern life and wealthy cultural heritage, its unique nature, architectural and historical monuments and diverse traditions of its peoples,” Putin said.

Two hundred and twenty five events will be held in the year’s framework, including presentations of tourist potentialities of Russian regions, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Beijing-Moscow motor rally, the press tour around Russia for journalists from China’s 100 leading media, and the Seventh Russian-Chinese Youth Games.

Chinese Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Year’s Organisational Committee from China Wang Qishan said that these events will be very useful; they will enrich bilateral cooperation in tourism and promote friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

Sino-Russian tourism is making rapid progress. China is second only to Germany in the number of tourists visiting Russia. More than 800,000 Chinese came to Russia in 2011, which is 13.88% more than in 2010. Russia ranks third in the number of tourists travelling to China. More than 2.5 million Russians spend their vacations in China last year, which is 7% more than in 2010.

Beijing is confident that tourism will keep growing. Qishan said that by 2015 tourist exchanges between China and Russia will reach five million people per year. He expressed confidence that development of tourism will help both countries to overcome the consequences of the global financial downturn. “In the current tense economic conditions, the conduct of the Years of Tourism will facilitate the growth of employment and economic demand in our countries and upgrade our strategic partnership to a new level,” he said.

Qishan urged the two countries “to do their best during the reciprocal years of tourism for facilitating cooperation between the business communities of the two countries with a view to increasing mutual investment.” He said this could be done by stepping up business tourism. Business people should be encouraged to come to a neighbouring country to evaluate investment opportunities on the spot.   

Heilongjiang, China’s province bordering on Russia, has elaborated a large-scale programme of investment tourism.

Twelve Russian regions presented their investment potentialities at the Russian-Chinese tourist forum in March.

Chinese capital was offered to take part in projects on developing the tourist infrastructure that are running into several billion dollars. China has also made initiatives. It is primarily interested in easing tourist visa procedures for travel to Russia.

China proposed, for one, establishing a zone of free trade and tourism. The authors of this proposal note that the zone will help eliminate barriers in the way of investment in tourism and expand the transport and tourist infrastructure in both countries. Russia was also asked to open more consular offices in China to help Chinese citizens receive visas for travel to Russia. It was proposed to open consulates in western China. For the time being, there are four Russian consulates in China – in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenyang. The former three have the right to issue visas.

China also expressed itself for expanding visa-free travel to Russia for Chinese tourists and prolonging tourist visas.

For the latest news on events during the Year of Russian Tourism in China, see the official site of the Chinese part of the Years’ Organising Committee at:

In the meantime

Earlier in this century China and Russia exchanged national years and years of the Russian and Chinese languages. The Year of Russian Tourism and the next Year of Chinese Tourism in Russia will continue this glorious tradition. There is one serious difference – the national and language years were mostly held on budget funds and this time their share in the funding of the current years has been reduced to the minimum. For the most part, private companies will invest in these events as sponsors. These are all but the first national events in bilateral history that are being held on private funds. Analysts have welcomed this change – private companies are taking the initiative in developing Russian-Chinese relations, which was a government prerogative for a long time.

Liu Yan and Tanya Poluros