Yesterday, the website of the Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) announced that the Government will allocate 1.2 billion roubles to "support entrepreneurial initiatives in the field of domestic tourism".
Reportedly, the department will co-finance projects that offer non-standard approaches creating tourism products and introduce innovative solutions to the industry.
The competition will be announced in September, and only those entrepreneurs and companies registered in Russia will be able to take part. Also, the terms of the competition require them to invest their own funds in the project - at least 30% of the total requested grant. The maximum grant amount must not exceed 3 million roubles.
According to the announcement, special attention will be paid to projects in the field of ecotourism, improving existing tourist routes and developing new ones, and creating an accessible environment. Think Travel Tech asked representatives of several start-ups what they think of the agency's new initiative.
Konstantin Maslov, one of the founders of Get in Russia, a tour aggregator in Russia:
As we had never considered ourselves as recipients of such support before, all such news just passed us by. Nevertheless, we’re confident that this is not the first such initiative, and the Government has already allocated grants to develop ecotourism and create new routes. On the whole, we see such initiatives as positive. I don’t want to comment on how these budgets will actually be spent, but ideally speaking, this is a truly necessary initiative. As an aggregator of a very wide variety of tours in Russia, we note the steady growth of user interest in active tourism, visiting unique natural locations. People are even happy when tents are the accommodation on offer - in summer, when staying in tents is a more viable proposition, such tours are sold out completely, and there are no places left 2-3 weeks before arrival. Accordingly, creating additional infrastructure will help attract new tourists to unique places.
As an aside, I just want to point out that we need to start immediately planning a system of environmental control over the activities of the facilities being created so that the increased anthropogenic load does not lead to the pollution of unique regions. Since the decree in its current format also includes a grant for creating a guidebook, we would like to apply for funding to implement our project - "Your personal guide to Russia".
Nikita Dedik, founder of Road.Travel:
The initiative itself to support travel start-ups financially in the form of grants is both necessary and helpful for the industry as a whole. This opportunity is especially valuable in the midst of the crisis affecting the industry, which has arisen in connection with all kinds of restrictions due to the pandemic.
The devil, as always, is in the detail. We have to figure out what the procedure for receiving grants will be, what restrictions will be imposed on grant applicants, what requirements will be placed on them, including in terms of accountability, and over what timeframes assistance is provided. In addition to financial assistance, it would be interesting to know if support can be expected in kind - communications through Rostourism channels, integration of technical solutions for start-ups into Russia.
Travel and other projects, possibly providing discounts and special conditions for start-ups from partner corporations, for example, cloud hosting and other SaaS solutions and APIs.
We at Road.Travel will definitely study this issue carefully - it's highly likely that we will be among the applicants.
Nikolai Nedelchuk, founder of Localie:
So far, I get the feeling that a professional, modern team is being put together by the Russian authorities in terms of tourism which sets the right goals, attracts new entrepreneurs, speaks the same language as those who develop international high-tech tourism projects, and sees, like us, great opportunities in terms of Russia’s development through tourism.
Although we at Localie work at the international level, we only recognised special attention and active support from the authorities towards the possibilities of travel-tech and the prospects for modernising the travel industry from Portugal. Now, Russia has joined Portugal. We are even temporarily relocating key staff from the Netherlands and Poland to Russia, because that’s where we currently see the greatest prospects in our industry.
Alexander Sheshotov, founder of GoGoTrain:
I’m pleased that we have begun to see Russia more honestly - the way it is. With all its advantages and disadvantages. I’m glad that our fellow citizens have begun visiting neighbouring regions and enjoying all that Russia has to offer. It's great that the state has begun to invest in domestic tourism. I’ll be applying for the grant. I hope it will be easier to apply than to get 15,000 for a trip to Russia (the compensation announced by the government for purchasing tours around Russia in August this year).
Denis Kreitsberg, founder of Kruiz.Online:
We’re now waiting for the documentation for this competition, ready to submit our paperwork! The industry really needs this support now.