First BRICS unveils a roadmap for boosting tourism among emerging economies

By Sanjay Kumar

MOSCOW: The first BRICS Tourism forum, held in Moscow on June 20 and 21, saw the launch of a roadmap to boost travel between member nations and the creation of the BRICS Tourism Cities Club. Twelve commercial agreements were also signed among representatives of the tourism business sector.

The two-day event saw the participation of over 600 leading experts, business and government representatives from the BRICS countries. Delegates of the nine member countries announced a roadmap for joint policy and investment initiatives, which covers the development of digital tourism solutions, the BRICS green initiative for tourism, and the development of business relations in the sector, which Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said makes up around five percent of the group members’ economies.

The idea of the BRICS tourism forum was proposed first by South Africa in 2018. Seven years hence, it has fructified under the Russian presidency this year. “We can say that the BRICS tourism track has been formally launched as of this moment,” Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Economic Development of Russia, told reporters. He said that “the document will bolster cooperation in the tourism industry’s digitalization and in promoting and increasing tourist exchanges.” He expressed confidence in the development of tourism as one of the significant economic sectors for the BRICS grouping.

Discover Russia

Narrating the growth of tourism in Russia, the minister said that at least 90 million tourists are expected from the BRICS nation which is 30% higher than the pre-Covid figures. “The geography of trips is expanding – foreign tourists are traveling to Russia more often. The growth of foreign tourists’ movements in the first 4 months of 2024, compared to the same period last year, amounted to 50%”, Reshetnikov said.

Since the beginning of 2024, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia has launched a program to promote the tourist product of Russia under a single brand “Discover Russia”, which is designed to introduce foreign tourists to different regions of the country, to convey a truthful image of Russia. The “Discover Russia” brand has already been presented at key international exhibitions in China, India and Saudi Arabia. “Discover Russia” initiative is aimed at exposing foreign tourists to different regions of Russia.

India Welcomes BRICS Tourism

The roadmap was welcomed by India’s Ministry of Tourism. “This is a great achievement, the first of its kind, and now the countries will work together in a certain manner through the roadmap,” Niraj Sharan, assistant director general at the ministry, told reporters at the sidelines of the event.

“In the future, more and more tourists will move within BRICS nations. It will be easy to go around, easing travel formalities, each country will facilitate member countries’ citizens, there will be cooperation between the hospitality sectors, and the countries will invest in each other’s firms.”

India is already offering e-visas to most of the BRICS nations. “India is aiming at a better partnership, coordination and cohesion among all the BRICS nations — better facilities, easy movement of tourists, better exchanges for tourism sectors, tourism stakeholders, enhancing investment in each other’s countries,” Sharan said. He stressed how tourism promotes inclusive growth. “Furthermore, by engaging and supporting local communities, we can ensure that tourism development is inclusive and benefits all stakeholders. This forum has reinforced the importance of sustainable tourism as a cornerstone for economic growth, cultural exchange and environmental stewardship among the BRICS nations”.

Other member countries also welcomed the initiatives. “We believe that the establishment of the BRICS Tourism Working Group will promote new progress in tourism cooperation among BRICS countries and contribute to the development of BRICS countries”,  Zhang Zheng, Vice Minister, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, People’s Republic of China, told the event.

Egypt, a new member to the group, highlighted the role tourism plays in bringing people together and establishing peace. “Tourism does not only create jobs for millions of people and provide profit for enterprises and the growth of economies, but also establishes bridges between nations and cultures and, most importantly, promotes peace, friendship and common understanding among people,” said Amr El Kady, CEO of Egyptian Tourism Authority.

The Moscow City government played a significant role in making the first Tourism forum a success. The representative of the local government proposed a  BRICS Tourism Cities Club, which “will serve as a driver for the development of inter-regional tourism and become a convenient platform for direct dialogue between BRICS representatives”. “We hope that this initiative will be approved by our partners and will become an effective tool and a base for increasing mutual tourist flow,” Evgeny Kozlov, the first Deputy Head of the Moscow Government Office and Chairman of the Moscow City Tourism Committee, told reporters. He said Moscow has lots to offer to tourists. “Moscow is a kind of resort where there are different things that make you feel that you are in a resort”.

“There are 400 museums, more than 20,000 restaurants , lots of Indian restaurants, and Middle Eastern cuisine”, Kozlov said. “We are focusing on the development of multilateral cooperation with the BRICS countries and expanding the formats of partnership”. He said that in the first quarter of  2024, close to 130,000 tourists visited the capital city of Russia and “by the end of the year, we expect more than 600,000 tourists from these countries.” “If in 2013-2019 tourists from BRICS countries made up 20-30%, in 2023 it was already 40%. said Kozlov.

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