Because SARS-CoV-2 tourists cancel trips to St. Petersburg will not take place forum. Representatives of the tourist industry complain about the loss, but the city authorities do not hurry with conclusions. Details – DW.
In Saint Petersburg there are only two people out of the twenty officially recognized sick with the novel coronavirus in Russia. Despite these small numbers, the tourism industry of the city is a big loss: the travelers cancel trips, the Russian authorities have decided not to hold this year’s St. Petersburg international economic forum (SPIEF). In this case, proceeds from tourism make up about 13% of the budget revenues of the city on the Neva. What are the dimensions of the problem and what economic consequences it threatens to Petersburg – in the material DW.
The hostel is under quarantine
The situation around the SARS-CoV-2 in Saint Petersburg is not identical to what is happening in Moscow. Even if at Smolny wanted to send all arriving from the countries of the “high risk” (China, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany and Spain) to the quarantine, the city authorities just wouldn’t have the capacity to control their movement. The facial recognition system in the security cameras currently available only to the Moscow authorities.
Under quarantine in St. Petersburg are officially two companies: one of the branches of infectious Botkin hospital, where two contracted the virus, and a student dormitory of the Medical University named after Mechnikov. Hundreds of medical students was under quarantine due to the fact that their neighbor was a student from Italy, who returned to St. Petersburg are infected with coronavirus.
Cancellation of the forum will reduce the prices of hotels of St. Petersburg
Major image loss for the city was the abolition of the SPIEF-2020. On this forum, since 1997 every year in late may – early June, brings together Federal and regional elites and high-ranking guests from abroad to discuss topical economic agenda in Russia and in the world. For hotel and restaurant business in St. Petersburg this forum – always a great event.
For example, in 2019, SPIEF was attended by 19 thousand visitors from 145 countries. Organizers estimated their costs at 2 billion rubles, and the total project cost could reach 3 billion However, experts believe that the city’s cancellation of this forum is not a big economic loss. “It is clear that in Petersburg (at the time of the forum. – Ed.) the wealthy come that SPIEF brings some income to the entrepreneurs, – says the President of the Federation of restaurateurs and hoteliers, Igor Bukharov. But we cannot say that it is the only major source of income in the industry.”
Moreover, for tourists who want to spend holidays in St. Petersburg in early June, the abolition of the SPIEF may even play into the hands. “If the cancellation of the forum are confirmed (official papers about the cancellation until it was), then at the beginning of June should establish reasonable prices,” – said the Chairman of the Board of the League of tour operators of St. Petersburg Alena Sergeeva. According to her, during the tourist season hotel occupancy at 70 percent is provided by the travel agencies.
The loss of tourism business due to coronavirus – up to 50% of the proceeds
Hoteliers and restaurateurs have already calculated how much money will be missing this year. “Visible panic, which all succumbed, – said Igor Bukharov. – In restaurants annual revenue falls 25% in hotels aimed at the Chinese – 50%. From Europe, in particular, from Finland, also gave up to go: in normal hotels revenue falls by about 30%”.
Alena Sergeeva told DW that the tours refuse not only European tourists but also Russian. “For us, the beginning of the season or prednisone is school spring break. So a large number of companies started cancelled tours even during the school holidays,” explains Sergeev. Because of conflicting information about the spread of the virus in other regions just afraid to take the children to Petersburg, she said.
Despite large financial losses this year, experts do not expect mass layoffs in the tourism industry. “Downsizing is an expensive thing, – said Igor Bukharov from the Federation of restaurateurs and hoteliers. – Fire of us (in Russia. -.) impossible: it is necessary to pay two months ‘salary to reduce staff, offer lower positions”. In his opinion, restaurant owners and hotels are more likely to negotiate with landlords to reduce the rent of the premises.
The reaction of the authorities of St. Petersburg on the fears of tourists due to coronavirus
The Chairman of the Board of the League of tour operators of St. Petersburg Alena Sergeeva believes that city government needs to stop the panic among tourists due to the coronavirus. “If the authorities do nothing, the city will remain without tourists”, – the expert warns. “They (the Committee for tourism of the Smolny. – Ed.) called and said we need help. They explained to people that there is no serious epidemiological situation in the city on the Neva river – said Sergeyev. – Any reaction has not followed yet”.
DW also asked the Committee for tourism development of the city. Counselor of the Chairman of the Committee Ian Macchina told that it is too early to calculate the damage from the situation with SARS-CoV-2 for the economy of St. Petersburg. “We wait and see how events develop. Given the fact that now the low season, we have time to analyze and decide what will happen next, before the high season. Yet we do not make any conclusions,” she said. The official noted that the reduction in travel now – common trend due to the fact that people have “self-preservation instinct”. “We understand the concerns of tourists, says Maxine. But in any case we invite everyone to Petersburg, called on the European championship on football. He will be in the summer – maybe by that time something will change.”