Russia has hosted the biennial General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization this week, promoting itself as a rapidly growing travel destination, RIA Novosti reports.
Over 2,000 delegates from 138 countries gathered in St. Petersburg for the four-day event, organized by the Russian Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The 23rd General Assembly, convening in Russia for the first time in its history, centered around developing tourism infrastructure, promoting innovation and on the globalization of the industry.
“Russia views tourism as a major sector of its economy,” Rosturism chief Zarina Doguzova pointed out, adding that Moscow will back all key UNWTO projects and continues to expand its own tourism potential.
Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO’s Secretary General, said the event “will change Russia’s image and will make it more attractive for tourists.” “All participants will tell of [Russia’s] hospitality and will come back with their friends and families,” he suggested.
The acting Governor of Saint Petersburg Alexander Beglov spoke in more detail about the tourism potential of Russia’s Northern capital.
“Petersburg has already become one of the most interesting cities for tourists in the world. World Travel Awards recognized it as the world’s leading cultural destination, the best European cultural and tourist destination, this year – the best urban destination in Europe. Now St. Petersburg needs to enter the ‘top’ destinations by tourist flow and make tourism part of the city’s new specialization,” he said.
The next UNWTO General Assembly will be hosted in Morocco’s Marrakech in 2021. Russia has been a member of the UN organization since 1975.