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Sergey Voronkov: Combining Business Tourism with Leisure Becomes Popular

Participants of the round table “Tourism Business of the Northern Capital”, organized by the Delovoy Peterburg newspaper, shared how the St. Petersburg tourism market developed in 2023 and what role business tourism played in this.

The event took place on the day of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly, in which the head of our state said that contribution of the tourism industry to Russia’s GDP would double by 2030, up to 5 %, and the number of tourist trips around the country – up to 140 million. Achieving the set targets became a key theme for discussing by participants of the round table – representatives of relevant government authorities, professional associations and experts.

The photo provided by the Delovoy Peterburg newspaper.

The total number of tourists visiting St. Petersburg in 2023 amounted to 9.4 million people, which is 16 % more than a year earlier. Herewith, against the background of the increase in tourist traffic, the average annual room occupancy of urban hotels increased from 64 to 66 %. St. Petersburg’s tourism revenues were provided by 86 % of guests from the regions of Russia, and another 11 % – by foreign citizens. Business tourism develops at the fastest pace: in 2023, the city received business tourists by 24 % more than in 2022.

Opening the round table, Sergey Korneev, Chair of the St. Petersburg Tourism Development Committee, noted that tourism in the city was essentially stimulated by the National Project “Tourism and Hospitality”, which began to be implemented in May 2021 on the initiative of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Sergey Korneev, the increase in tourist traffic for 2021–2023 amounted to 224 %, given the drop in tourist traffic because of the pandemic.

“Within the national project, we do a lot of work to increase domestic tourist traffic, employment in the tourism sector, as well as export of tourist services and the number of guests from abroad. Our guests are increasingly re-visiting the Northern Capital – almost every second tourist repeatedly returns to us. We establish contacts with other countries, participate in implementing various projects, and develop new areas. St. Petersburg has a lot to offer to travelers, and these capacities are inexhaustible,” stressed the head of the department.

One of the promising areas for attracting new tourist traffics is business tourism. Every eighth resident of Russia comes to St. Petersburg on business. Over 90 % of business tourists in St. Petersburg are domestic traffic. This type of tourism evens out seasonality, increases investment attractiveness of the destination, generates traffic and loads the entire infrastructure of the hospitality industry, as well as allows performing efficiently.

“In recent years, growing demand for industrial and business exhibitions has become a definite trend. The format of combined trips, blending business tourism with leisure, is popular. Following the results of 2022–2023, 25 % of corporate bookings involved weekends, and in the summer period – up to 82 %. We watch import substitution of foreign business forums, with corporate events to appear,” Sergey Voronkov, CEO of THE EXPOFORUM International, stressed in his speech.

The photo provided by the Delovoy Peterburg newspaper.

Development of business tourism is facilitated by growth in the number of small events for 200–500 people by three times – from 1000 to 3000, as well as growth in the number of event organizers from 135 to 400–500. According to the speaker, venues need to develop DMS (Digital Monetization System) services, which involve organizing the process from booking plane or train tickets, hotels, meals and transfers to finding suppliers and the event venues.

At the round table, representatives of the tourism, hotel and restaurant businesses, apartment hotels, industrial enterprises, museums and public spaces of St. Petersburg shared their opinions on the tourism development. The participants presented the tourist project “New Tourist Geography”, modern points of attraction, including “Sevkabel Port”, “Brusnitsyn” Cultural Quarter, “Palace of New Culture” (Kirov House of Culture), city and country hotels.

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