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Russia‘s withdrawal from the World Tourism Organization: what does it mean for tourists

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The head of Rostourism, Zarina Doguzova, promises that our tourists will continue to travel abroad, and travelers from other countries are waiting in Russia

Now Russian tourism has other urgent tasks, says Lilia Sokolnikova from kp.ru.

The order signed on June 10 by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Russia’s withdrawal from the World Tourism Organization caused a stir in the network. What is it, our international tourism is completely abandoned?

Nothing will change for tourists.

The short answer is that for ordinary tourists, in practice, nothing will change at all. The country’s membership in the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) does not affect either visas or prices at resorts (if Antalya hotels gave a discount to guests from UNWTO member countries, then the decision to leave would concern everyone. But no, not give), nor air traffic. If the travel of Russians abroad in the near future depends on anything, it is on whether the aviation and banking sanctions will be lifted. Or introduce new ones.

Zarina Doguzova’s opinion

The head of Rostourism, Zarina Doguzova, expressed her opinion:

– Russia remains in the international tourism arena. We remain open to dialogue with all countries and will continue to cooperate with our foreign colleagues. Along with domestic tourism, we will also continue to actively develop international tourism. And of course we are waiting for guests from foreign countries. In many popular foreign destinations for our citizens, we are in constant contact with our colleagues, we maintain good working contacts. Together we solve all the difficulties that arise in the current conditions.

Can a country engage in international tourism without being a UNWTO member? Easy. The World Tourism Organization includes most of the countries of the world – 160 states and territories. But there are some that are not included. And the USA, for example. Or UK, Ireland, Iceland, Belgium, Singapore, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Serious list, right? And nothing. This fact does not prevent them from traveling and receiving tourists (unlike the pandemic).

Gone by yourself

The decision to withdraw Russia from the UN World Tourism Organization was not made yesterday. Our country received an application for withdrawal at the emergency session of the UNWTO General Assembly on April 27th. Now the next step has just been taken.

Even earlier, in March, several countries – Guatemala, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine – called for Russia to be expelled from the UNWTO in connection with the events in Ukraine (officially this sounded like “suspend membership”). The petition was not even considered. But Russia decided to leave on its own.

Can you return if you want? Yes, there are such cases in the history of the UNWTO. Thailand and Malaysia, Bahrain and Qatar, quite respected in international tourism and beloved by travelers, left and then renewed their membership.

Tourism has changed

On the other hand, many experts are now saying that the UNWTO has no real powers, no benefit from membership, why Russia was there at all. It turns out that all these years officials from tourism have not seen senseless spending? In fact, this extreme is a distortion.

Yes, Russia paid membership dues, like other countries. At the same time, our country did not have an office at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid. Participation in the UNWTO can hardly be called a sinecure for officials and diplomats. Unless they went to seminars and assemblies.

Russia itself hosted the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in 2019. Beautiful, big, big. UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili came, ministers of tourism from different countries, the head of Rostourism Zarina Doguzova met with everyone. In St. Petersburg, it was planned to open the UNWTO Academy with free courses for employees of travel companies.

Actually, a lot of UNWTO programs, events and publications are dedicated to the exchange of experience between professionals from different countries and getting to know the best practices. For our country, which is actively developing domestic tourism, all this could be useful.

But the situation has changed. Now Russian tourism has other urgent tasks – for example, on which planes to fly to resorts. And it is quite logical and pragmatic that Zarina Doguzova now travels to SCO summits, meets with her colleagues from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and India. And he regularly calls up the ministers of tourism of Turkey and Egypt.

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