Moscow as a brand: Russian capital attractions

September 24, 2019
Tourism and travels

Moscow is listed in TOP20 most visited cities in Europe, with the tourist flow almost doubled in eight years. In the next six years, Moscow is likely to get into TOP10, as it has everything now, including developed infrastructure, quality hotel services and extensive public transport network.

From USA to China

The number of tourists visiting Moscow is increasing every year. In 2018, more than 23.5 million people visited Moscow, with 18 million of them being citizens of Russia and 5.5 million foreigners.

China ranked first with its 803,600 Moscow visitors.  Germany tourists took the second place (321,900 people), France is the third (149,300), and Israel is the fourth (144,300 people). The USA closes TOP5 (137,800 tourists). 56 million guest tourists visited Moscow, too, those who did not stay for the night.

Photo: Evgeny Samarin

The key event of 2018, the FIFA World Cup, attracted 4.5 million guests, more than half of them foreigners. At the same time, the tourist flow from abroad increased by 71% compared to the same period in 2017.

Photo: Yuliya Ivanko

By the late 2019, even more tourists are expected in Moscow, including those who have heard good reviews from friends or watched reports from Moscow during the championship.

According to a sociological survey for the first six months of 2019, with data provided by the Moscow City Tourism Committee, people under 34 are the most regular Moscow guests.  Moreover, according to a study by Deliotte international consulting company made in 2019, millennials have turned to be the most active visitors. They come to the Russian capital for new impressions, attracted by numerous festivals, sports and cultural events.

Those born after 1981, make up 77.5% of the total flow of Russian tourists (63.6% of the total number of foreign visitors).

Moscow attracts young people not only with its bright events. Last year, it was listed among the ten capitals in the world most affordable for foreign tourists: according to analysts, the average cost of a trip to Moscow is about RUB 49,000 for foreign guests, RUB 35,000 for guests from CIS countries and RUB 23,000 for Russians.

As President of the Russian Union of Tourism Industry Sergei Shpilko notes, Moscow attracts not only with its sights, but with the special atmosphere of the city, its citizens, concert and exhibition programs, public spaces, street musicians and clean sidewalks.

"Look at a swing on Triumfalnaya Square or parade of a pleasure fleet on the Moskva River. Moscow has been completely transformed in nine years. It started with Gorky Park. Now, we enjoy a positive atmosphere everywhere, including residential areas. Moscow possesses both good vibes and charm, not inferior to any capital of the world. It has become trendy in the tourist market," says Sergei Shpilko.

Take a walk around Moscow

All tourists prefer to go to the Red Square first. Also, the top of the most popular attractions include Vorobyovy Gory, Ostankino Tower, Tretyakov Gallery, metro stations and Arbat Street.

Back in 2012, Arbat was the only pedestrianised street of the Russian capital. Now, there are more than 350 of them. Since 2011, the length of pedestrian spaces has increased fivefold, with Moscow ranking seventh in the world in these terms, and second in terms of the share of its parks. So, it is not surprising that tourists prefer to take a good walk. They are attracted by the restored VDNKh pavilions, numerous squares and embankments.

The urban environment has become both more comfortable, and more attractive, too, since banners have been removed from the building facades, with huge media screens dismantled from the roofs of historical buildings. The number of outdoor advertising has decreased eight-fold. This year, it is to reduce even more, since hand-drawn advertising on the facades has been banned, too. Perhaps, they will be replaced by street art works, to become another city's hallmark.

"Moscow is in great demand both abroad and among Russians. We may watch now how Moscow is destroying stereotypes of foreign guests about Russia in just a couple of days. Earlier, Muscovites preferred to visit St. Petersburg, but now residents of the northwestern regions come to visit Moscow more often," said Marina Levchenko, Director General of a travel company.

She added that tourists from other countries — Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates visit Moscow more often now.

Hotels' capacity

As for the hotel segment, Moscow is one of the most developed cities both in Russia and in the world.

"Our hotel facilities are the largest in Europe. They welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists, with most of them very much impressed by Moscow's vast spaces, beauty and clean streets. But competition is high in all market sectors: from hostels to the most expensive hotels. Moscow business class  facilities are newly built or renovated. This city seems to become a hit of the world tourism market", said Director General of Izmailovo hotel complexes Alexei Vorobyov.

According to Alexei, it makes both revenues and costs grow, but the property tax exemption, provided to the hotels in 2014 by Moscow authorities, makes  business profitable.

At the end of 2018, the number of rooms has almost doubled in comparison with 2010. During this time, 53 new hotels with some 10,000 rooms have been built. Moscow offers 1,700 hotels with 82,900 rooms to accommodate 232,900 guests. This year, according to preliminary estimates, 17 more hotels are to be put into operation.

The average room price makes up RUB 5,000, which is twice lower than in Amsterdam, Paris and London. 5* hotels offer rooms for RUB 9,200 on average. For comparison, a hotel room of the same level in Oslo, Copenhagen or Paris costs RUB 20,000.

Thanks to affordable prices, the number of hotel guests has tripled and reached 14 million people. On average, hotels are 77% full. During the FIFA World Cup, the Moscow hotels' occupancy broke all records by reaching over 90%, the same as during the last New Year holidays.

Photo: Evgeny Samarin

Event tourism

Event tourism, which has been actively developing in recent years, has become one of the drivers of the Russian tourism's development. Festivals have already become the Moscow's hallmark. Last year, Moscow won the international World Festival and Event City Award as one of the best cities to hold big festivals and events.

The jury specially highlighted the organisation of large-scale events of the Moscow Seasons series. More than 30 festivals have been held since 2012. In 2018, about 65 million people visited them, that is 11 times more than in the first festival year. Last winter, about 18.6 million guests attended the Christmas Journey festival.

Besides, in 2018, Moscow entered the TOP10 cities with the best Christmas fairs, according to The Daily Telegraph. As urbanists note, Moscow is the best now in the New Year's celebration events and decoration of city streets.

From plane to tram

Two years ago, the UITP International Public Transport Summit in Montreal recognised Moscow as the No. 1 city for the integrated development of the transport system. Four international airports, Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky, as well as nine railway stations, located almost in the centre of the city, welcome tourists from around the world. This system has been evolving on an ongoing basis.

You can reach the centre by a taxi, too. Since 2010, their number has increased sixfold to offer almost 50,000 cars now. Moreover, taxi service time has decreased to 5-7 minutes. In eight years, the industry has become more competitive, which has reduced the cost of travel.

If you arrive during rush hours, take Aeroexpress to get to the Moscow centre from any airport. You will find its terminals at the Moscow Circle Line stations.

Riding around the city has also become easier, as Moscow has now over 250 metro stations, some 30 transport interchange hubs, with traffic on the two Moscow Central Diameters, which will link Moscow and the Moscow region, expected to open by the late 2019. You can pay fare by one ticket, Troika travelcard, and use it for all types of public transport.

Gastronomy tourism in Moscow

Gastronomy tourism is one of the fastest growing areas in Russian tourism. There are about 12,000 cafes, snack bars and restaurants in Moscow now, that is twice as many as ten years ago. Gastronomic festivals are held annually, with three Moscow restaurants included in the main annual international World's Best Restaurants' ranking.

New gastronomic spaces have been opened, including Danilovsky, Usachyovsky and Central markets, as well as Depot venue Muscovites and tourists visit to try culinary hits of various world cuisines. Gastronomic map of Moscow has now even more points of attraction, including Kuznetsky Most, Bolshaya Dmitrovka, Arbat, Patriarshiye Ponds and others.

According to the owner of a restaurant chain Sergei Mironov, due to the food embargo and great competition, restaurants have improved the quality of their food in five years: "For ten years, we have developed the gastronomy attractive for tourists, since we have been focusing on Russian products. Foreigners like it, so we have now a large flow of tourists from abroad. It is not Norwegian salmon they want to try, by Russian wild salmon from Kamchatka, king crabs and Sakhalin scallops".

Photo: Yuliya Ivanko

Safer than Paris

According to Numbeo research service, Moscow has outpaced such cities as New York, Paris, London, Rome, Barcelona in the ranking of the safest cities. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit and The Economist of 2019, Moscow has been listed in the safety ranking of the largest cities in the world.

Over the years, safety in Moscow has become a priority. Since 1 June 2014, the  Tourist Police Division has been working in Moscow, with its employees patrolling central pedestrian zones and the main tourist routes.

During the 2018 World Cup, the tourist police kept order in the city and helped tourists find their way. The most surprising thing for foreigners was that the policemen spoke both Russian, and English, German, and even Chinese.

Photo: Maxim Denisov

Single number, navigation and convenient services

Moscow offers a full range of services that allows to make the stay of tourists in the city as comfortable as possible. Over the years, Moscow has developed special quality standards and special programs for tourists from China, Japan, India, Israel and other countries. Last year, Moscow and some Russian cities introduced the Tax Free system, under which foreigners are returned VAT when shopping.

Easy navigation has been also introduced for Moscow guests: Russian names in the metro, airports, train stations and even in some parks are duplicated not only in English, but in Chinese, too.

Moscow develops services for tourists on an ongoing basis. To help guests navigate the city, new maps in Russian, English and Chinese have been introduced in August. Get them for free in hotels, museums and parks. Since the beginning of August, tourists can take advantage of the short number 122 of the 24/7 call centre to ask any questions.

Tourism plays an important role in the global economy. Last year, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recorded 1.54 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide.  This is 6% more than a year earlier. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 1.8 billion people. It is obvious that this global trend extends to Moscow, too, which is ready for the growth of tourist flow, since the Russian capital offers all the necessary infrastructure and considers the development of tourism to be one of its priorities.


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