Research Article
Research Article
Coronavirus and tourism: is there light at the end of the tunnel?
expand article infoMarina Y. Sheresheva, Matvey S. Oborin§
‡ Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
§ Perm institute (branch) of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Perm, Russia
Open Access


Tourism industry is one of the most striking examples of the COVID-19 pandemic impact on population and economy. In the previous decade the global and Russian tourism industry demonstrated sustainable development, while in 2020, due to the pandemic consequences the situation in the industry turned out to be on the brick of disaster. The most acute problems of business in this area were largely accounted for by significant social consequences of the pandemic. Decreased quality of life caused by the disease and its manifestations, aggravated chronic diseases, increased temporary disability, combined with closure of borders and collapse of international transportation, have developed a complex of factors that completely paralyzed all sectors of the tourism industry for a while. Many of these factors will retain their impact in the long term. However, the pandemic impact cannot be viewed in a negative way only. There comes an understanding that tourism may become one of the engines of economy recovery rather than a burden. This requires systematic actions of the state primarily focused on stimulating domestic tourism, restoring and developing business ecosystems, keeping in balance various interests of the tourism industry stakeholders, from tourists per se and local businesses to regional and federal authorities.


tourism, pandemic, COVID-19, crisis, consumers, public policy

JEL codes: Z3; L83; L88; P2

In July 2022, reports on the number of COVID-19 cases dominated the Russian news again. The increased number of new cases of coronavirus infection detected in Russia is associated with the spread of new variants of the omicron strain, also detected in Denmark, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S. and some other countries. According to data as of the 28th week of 2022, 29536 cases of COVID-19 were registered in the Russian Federation. The incidence rate equaled to 20.13 per 100 000 population, which is 30.2% higher than in the previous week, and 25.9% higher than the average for the last four weeks. The excess average incidence was registered in 26 regions (TASS 2022).

Although there are no plans to reintroduce anti-pandemic measures in any of the Russian regions so far, this has become an additional source of tension for the domestic tourism industry. In apt words of a well-known doctor, governments and mass media are the major «virologists» now, and business does not hesitate to follow such reports. Moreover, signals about the onset of the next COVID-19 wave in summer began to come from various parts of the world. Most visible increase in incidence in June, compared to May, 2022, was registered in France (+74%), Great Britain (+58%), Germany (+25%) and the U.S. (+16%) (GlobBaro HSE 2022).

Memories about the COVID-19 associated crisis paralyzing almost all sectors of tourism and hospitality in the spring of 2020 are still well-remembered as a nightmare by all market participants: tour operators, hotels, sanatoriums and health resorts, museums or restaurants. However, the question remains how this experience will affect further development of the industry, and how reliable are claims of some experts that the pandemic will have a negative long-term impact on the industry development.

It should be noted here that many experts – both in Russia and abroad – stick to a different point of view and consider the pandemic as a turning point to open up new prospects and opportunities for the industry rather than a source of problems (Niewiadomski 2020; Tsai 2021; Kwok and Koh 2022; Mishra 2022; Seabra and Bhatt 2022; Viana-Lora and Nel-lo-Andreu 2022). Nevertheless, impact of the pandemic on the Russian tourism is undeniable with ambiguous yet diverse consequences due to specifics of the industry itself. Therefore, it is important to understand the problems and development prospects of the industry, its impact on socio-economic development, environment and life quality of the population, which can be the key to solving many problems of the Russian economy.

Based on the analysis of statistical information and expert interviews, this article discusses major pandemic-associated trends in the global tourism industry, as well as prospects for developing conditions to meet demand of the Russian population for domestic tourism services.

Memories of the future: pandemic waves and tourism statistics

The COVID-19 pandemic is recognized as the biggest challenge in the history of the tourism and hospitality industry (UNWTO 2021). In the spring of 2020, due to consequences of the pandemic, the situation in the industry was on the brick of disaster (Table 1).

Table 1.

COVID-associated decline in the global tourism

2019 2020 2021
International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) 1.5 billion 400 million 415 million
Export revenues from international tourism (international tourism receipts + passenger transport) USD 1.7 trillion USD 638 billion USD 700–800 billion
Tourism Direct Gross Domestic Product (TDGDP) USD 3.5 trillion USD 1.6 trillion USD 1.9 trillion

According to the World Tourism Organization, two months after the onset of the pandemic, absolutely all international tourist destinations were closed. Dynamics in international arrivals went into the red (Fig. 1) In just two months, the industry, which was considered one of the most promising and successfully developing, was on the verge of collapse (Sheresheva 2020b).

Figure 1.

Dynamics in international tourist arrivals, January – April 2020. Source: (UNWTO 2020).

All sectors of the tourism market have been negatively affected by the pandemic: transport, hotel sector, restaurant business, cultural and entertainment sector, insurance, etc. A dramatic decline in tourist demand has put a huge number of industry enterprises at risk of bankruptcy due to working capital zeroing. In many countries, the first response to the current situation was mass layoffs of employees (Castanho et al. 2021; Marome and Shaw 2021)1. During 2020, the global tourism industry loss amounted to about $ 4.5 billion, 62 million lost their job in the industry, and only 18.2 million jobs were restored in 2021 (UNWTO 2021; WTTC 2021).

Job loss in the tourism industry turned out to be devastating and has particularly affected females, older people, less educated and less skilled workers, as well as local residents (Lopes et al. 2021; Meegaswatta 2021; Seyfi et al. 2022; World Economic Forum 2021). This was largely due to the fact that up to 80% of the tourism industry enterprises are small and medium-sized businesses, mostly local. They turned out to be the least sustainable, because they did not have sufficient financial resources to cope with the impending crisis (E Simen and Sheresheva 2020; Muhamad et al. 2022). Small travel agencies are more often managed by females. It should also be noted here, that in many countries maidens and registration desk specialists are mainly females, the positions require close interaction with customers, and during the pandemic it has become dangerous for health. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has created a new type of unemployment, especially in the regions with higher concentration of people and tourist activity. In 2020, many of those who had never been unemployed before, had sustained salary and were highly motivated to work lost their job (Lopes et al. 2021).

Drop-off from business of many small and medium-sized enterprises has resulted in disrupted supply chain and logistics areas, which are closely interconnected and often cross-border. Large companies have also faced difficulties threatening the mere staying in business. Host communities – the most important stakeholders of the tourism industry – have turned vulnerable as well in the face of the crisis. In some cases, a sharp drop in tourist demand has become a real threat to local communities that have lost their livelihood (Persson-Fischer and Liu 2021; Scheyvens et al. 2021).

International organizations have contributed to the support of the tourism industry during the pandemic. For example, an interactive map for tourists was developed during the COVID-19 period, containing information about all restrictions imposed by a particular state because of the pandemic (IATA 2020). National governments accounted for the main array of measures affecting all stakeholders.

But the main problem of the spring-summer of 2020 was interruption of logistic chains rather than almost completely frozen activities in the tourism market alone. Uncertainty has hit the market players the most: no one could project when external and internal tourist destinations would be re-established (Alexandrova 2020).

However, even now there is not a single analyst who could give an accurate forecast of the tourism sector development in the coming years.

The beginning of 2022 seemed quite optimistic for the tourism industry. According to UNWTO, the number of international tourist arrivals increased by 182% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021: from 41 million to 117 million. According to UNWTO, best results were registered in Europe and the U.S.: the number of arrivals almost doubled. However, these data were still slightly more than 50% behind the volume of tourist flows before the pandemic. In the Middle East, in the first month of 2022, the number of arrivals increased by 90%, and by 51% – in Africa (but this is still 63% and 66% less than in 2019). It took the Asia-Pacific region the longest to recover, as several countries remained closed to tourists: increase in the number of arrivals out there equaled to 44%.

In the Russian outbound tourism in January-March 2022, the choice of tourist countries expanded compared to the first quarter of 2021, the geographical structure has significantly changed in terms of tourist flows (Fig. 2). Experts pointed to an obvious decrease in the tourist flow to Turkey, however, first of all, they didn’t attribute this to the pandemic, rather than to the fact that in January (except for New Year period) and February 2022 there were no regional charter programs of tour operators to Turkey.

In January 2022, UNWTO conducted a global survey of its tourism experts on the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and expected recovery time. The survey was conducted from January to March 2022, the number of experts interviewed added up to minimum 1,500 people from around the world. 48% of the experts were positive assessing recovery of the tourist flows to the 2019 level during the six-month period. According to the survey conducted in September 2022, the UNWTO Panel of tourism experts rated the period from May to August 2022 with a score of 125 (on a scale from 0 to 200). Prospects for the rest of the year are cautiously optimistic, the score is 111 points, showing a downgrade in confidence levels, but the overall indicator equaled to 55.5%. According to experts, dire economic conditions, including high inflation and soaring oil prices, exacerbated by the special military operation in Ukraine, remain the major factor hindering the tourism recovery. About 61% of the experts currently predict a potential return of international arrivals to the 2019 levels in 2024 or later, while the number of those who project return to the pre-pandemic levels in 2023 has decreased (27%) compared to the previous survey (48%) (UNWTO 2022).

As a result, a group of the main factors that can contribute to rather rapid recovery of international tourism was presented (Fig. 3).

However, it is already obvious that a complex crisis is coming, reinforced by a combination of pandemic and geopolitical factors. In mid-July 2022, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on all countries of the world to return the mask regime because of the next wave of COVID-19. The World Bank, which in January 2022 predicted a global economic growth of 4.1%, in July 2022 lowered its prognosis to 2.9% and warned that many countries could fall into recession as the economy slips into a period of stagflation reminiscent of the 1970s. The 2022 economic growth estimates for Europe and the U.S. have been lowered to 2.5%. Growth in developing countries is expected to decline to 3.4% in 2022 from 6.6% in 2021, well below the annual average of 4.8% between 2011 and 2019 (World Bank 2022). There is practically no doubt that consequences of the crisis will have a long-term impact on the economic and socio-demographic development of states.

This, in turn, puts the world tourism in a rather difficult situation. Long-term forecasts are rather vague and do not provide for any insight of how long it will take to fully restore international tourist trips. According to the Euromonitor International report, a noticeable decrease in the tourist flow from Russia will also contribute to reduction in global tourism industry revenues in 2022: in 2021 Russians spent USD 9.1 billion abroad, in 2022 this amount will be approximately USD 6.9 billion less (Interfax 2022). However, the remarkable thing is that the Russian tourists are totally cool about threats of the pandemic (for example, the flow of the Russian tourists to Turkey in the summer of 2022 turned out to be significant, despite information about the next wave of COVID-19 in this country). Absence of the Russian tourists on many international routes is rather explained by the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, resulting in higher cost of a number of traditional destinations, as well as hostile attitude towards Russians in the European countries in the spring of 2022 and increased number of refusals of a Schengen visa, which sharply reduced willingness to visit many previously popular European destinations. As to the European tourism, the negative impact of reports on higher incidence of new coronavirus strains in summer is also reinforced by the fact that tourists in other continents who use long-haul flights (for example, residents of the North America) postpone their trips to Europe due to the conflict in Ukraine, as they are not sure that the European countries are safe and suitability enough for travel and business.

Thus, not all changes in the global tourism industry are caused by the pandemic. Nevertheless, any of the trends has somehow been influenced by this “Black Swan”2.

Figure 2.

TOP 10 leading countries in outbound tourist flow from Russia in the first quarter of 2022 (compared with the same period in 2021). Source: (UNWTO 2022).

Figure 3.

UNWTO Expert Survey results: main factors that can contribute to effective recovery of international tourism. Source: based on (Kobyak et al. 2022).

Major trends in the tourism market in the current decade: what is the impact of the pandemic

If we are to talk about noticeable trends in the tourism industry in the pre-pandemic period, each trend was either intensified or modified (Table 2).

Adjustment of business models at all levels is one of the main changes in tourism. As already noted, the COVID-19 pandemic has almost completely brought global tourism activities to a halt, and in this regard, one of the most acute pre–pandemic problems has been resolved at least for a while – impact of “overtourism” to the most popular destinations (Goodwin 2017; Alexandrova et al. 2019; Dodds and Butler 2019). The market players faced the opposite problem of “zero tourism” (Kainthola et al. 2021; Mestanza and Bakhat 2021). This has led to significant, sometimes breakthrough changes in the management models of tourist destinations (Polukhina et al. 2021; Vărzaru et al. 2021). In less than four months, focus of governments and organizations in this area has been redirected from development models based on the idea of preserving and improving the quality of life of local residents in the fight against the impact of “supertourism” to the urgent need to support the survival of industry players, preserve jobs and ensure safety conditions for tourists, company employees and local residents (Guerreiro 2022). In these models, as in companies’ business models, the issues of crisis management and strategic planning started to play a more significant role (Li et al. 2021a; Kowalczyk-Anioł et al. 2021). The pandemic has seriously increased focus of all tourism stakeholders to such aspects as safety and quality management (Berezka et al. 2021; Chang and Wu 2021; Kristiana et al. 2021; Sharma et al. 2021; Kuščer et al. 2022).

The devastating impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of travel and tourism has exacerbated the already existing sustainability challenges that have historically been associated with the tourism industry (Fletcher et al. 2021; Seabra and Bhatt 2022). At the same time, as noted by many researchers, pandemic-associated travel restrictions have reduced the negative impact on the environment. In general, the pandemic has brought at least a short-term relief by ridding destinations of previously existing irresponsible business practices and setting trends for more responsible behavior of tourism stakeholders, including tourists themselves, and introduction of more “sustainable” practices (Ioannides and Gyimóthy 2020; Eichelberger et al. 2021; Tiwari and Chowdhary 2021; Sumanapala and Wolf 2022). Therefore, we can say that the pandemic can also be considered as a catalyst of opportunities in sustainable tourism (Romagosa 2020; Schmidt et al. 2021).

Crucially, the pandemic has stimulated innovation in the tourism industry (Streimikiene and Korneeva 2020; Piccarozzi et al. 2021; Sheresheva et al. 2021). We can agree with the opinion that lack of innovation means lack of preparedness for challenges. If changes in the environment and in demand are “as huge as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is forced to adapt to, then lack of adaptation and innovation calls into question the mere existence of companies” (Montañés-Del-Río and Medina-Garrido 2020: 10).

One of the main sources of potential innovations in tourism is the use of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as intelligent devices, which enable tourists to receive new benefits and impressions, and companies and destination management to receive a significant amount of information about behavior patterns and preferences of tourists (Ardito et al. 2019; Korže 2019; Peceny et al. 2019; Stankov and Gretzel 2020; Sheresheva et al. 2021). Such technologies are being increasingly used by hotels (Biglin Sari 2018; Chen et al. 2021; Luo and Pan 2021), tour organizers (Allal-Chérif 2022; Camarinha et al. 2022; Schütz et al. 2022), tourist regions and cities (Del Vecchio et al. 2018; Kowalczyk-Anioł et al. 2021; Viñals et al. 2021; Stanojevic et al. 2022).

The opinion that innovative business models should be evaluated not only from the point of view of profit prospects or quantitative increase in tourist flow, but primarily from the point of view of compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, assuming development with minimized damage to current and future generations, is characteristic of and has been significantly reinforced by the pandemic (Tomislav 2018; Chkalova et al. 2019; Rasoolimanesh et al. 2020; Van et al. 2020).

Research also show that the trend towards the development of new types of tourism and niche market segments, as well as demand personification of tourist services continues (Carlsson-Szlezak et al. 2020; Higgins-Desbiolles 2020; Twining Ward and McComb 2020; Rogerson and Rogerson 2021). Independent tourism also remains popular, before the pandemic many modern travelers, especially young ones, unequivocally preferred independent travel arrangements. The pandemic has highlighted the risks of independent tourism that used to be hardly taken into account. First, in case of infection, independent treatment arrangements abroad turned out to be inaccessible in some cases rather than only more difficult and expensive. Second, in the spring of 2020, vast majority of the Russian tourists who were abroad through tour operators returned home rather quickly (about 160 thousand organized tourists from 43 countries in two weeks), and a large number of independent tourists had to wait to return to Russia through the efforts of the Russian Foreign Ministry (Sheresheva 2020b).

Of particular note is the emergence of new specific forms of interregional and intercountry cooperation, such as creation of “travel bubbles” – “safe corridors” formed during the pandemic period within the framework of an agreement between two individual countries that are confident they have coped with the pandemic wave, and open their borders only for mutual trips for residents of their countries, without imposing requirements for mandatory quarantine or availability of COVID testing results (Chan and Haines 2021; Fusté-Forné and Michael, 2021).

Table 2.

Pre-pandemic trends in the world tourism industry

Trend Effect of the pandemic
Development of initiatives on transformation of the tourism industry, its reorientation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which implies a balance between economic, social and environmental components, as well consideration of interests and cooperation between business, the state and society The trend has transformed (certain aspects have been intensified while others – weakened) with a risk of returning to “old” practices
The growing role of digital technologies that transform logics of travel organization and ways of getting impressions (global booking and distribution systems, sharing platforms, interactive maps, GIS technologies, virtual and added reality) A sharp increase in digitalization
Changes in the supply and demand structure: emergence and development of new types of tourism and niche market segments, personification, increased share of independent travelers, request for immersion in the life of local communities, nature, crafts and local activities The trend remained
The focus is shifted to relationship of actors, joint value creation, stakeholder and network approach in management of the industry in general and individual destinations The trend enhanced
Figure 4.

Global tourism industry: moving towards socio-ecological and economic balance in the post-pandemic era. Source: (Seabra and Bhatt 2022).

Russian tourism: a paradigm shift in development

International tourism, which most Russian tour operators have relied on in the past decades, has turned out to be the most “toxic” part of the tourism business because of the pandemic. As a result of the current situation, many tourists failed to refund, even in part, their expenses for tours and vouchers purchased in advance due to deductions under the tourist agreement. The only way out in this situation, which the tourist operators could find, is to issue a document on the transfer of trips to a later period, when borders will be opened and transport links will be restored.

By the summer of 2021, it became clear that at least 30 % of the purchased tourist certificates would be dated. Nevertheless, many Russian citizens, not fully realizing all seriousness of the situation, continued to purchase trips – most customers were confident that tourist communications would soon be restored and it would be possible to travel abroad (Zemtsov, Tsareva 2020). It should be noted here, that both specifics of the Russian mentality and so-called “inertia of the consumer” – a characteristic of consumer behavior well known to marketing specialists (Gray et al. 2017; Henderson et al. 2021) played a big role. However, the experience that tourists gained as a result of such transfers turned out to be negative for the majority of them, making many Russians either abandon trips altogether for a while, or choose domestic destinations, especially since stimulating measures in domestic tourism have expanded the range of offers.

Restrictions imposed by the Russian government in 2020 were based on finding a balance between keeping the country’s economy afloat, preserving health and preventing mass unemployment and decreased living standards. In our opinion, in general, the measures were successful in achieving the balance and mainly preventing mass job loss. This both mitigated the situation and deescalated social tensions as well as made a lot of sense in terms of the prospects for returning to the pre-pandemic needs of the market. For comparison, serious disruptions in the service of air passengers in the UK in the summer of 2022 were due to the fact that a significant number of employees were dismissed during the pandemic, and their shortage naturally affected the service organization.

In Russia, the crisis turning point in 2020-2021 turned out to be a transition towards intensive development of the local tourism, with a growing understanding of the fact that it is the actions of the state that will determine successes and failures of countries and industries in the “post-pandemic world “ rather than “invisible hand of the market”, (Sheresheva 2020b). It is extremely important to stimulate adequate pricing policy in the regions, measures are needed to reduce cost of the domestic tourist product to affordable to the Russian middle-income population. This can be ensured within the framework of a well-structured state support for the tourism industry. It is no coincidence that the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism (Rosturizm) received appeals from businesses during the pandemic period with a request to create more loyal conditions because of the crisis that will make a number of tourist destinations more accessible to attract more tourists because of affordable prices.

However, the pricing problem in the Russian tourism is extremely complex and there is no clear-cut solution so far. On the one hand, many market players, following the 2020 lockdown, found themselves in a difficult financial situation, which was already hard even before the pandemic due to high taxes, expensive transport logistics, and Rus Ruble volatility. Calculations carried out before the outbreak of the pandemic show that in 2019, the costs of the tourism sector accounted for almost 90% of all profits, while gross value added decreased to 3%, since structures were not able to fully support the entire volume of tourist services. Income in the tourism sector in the long term can remain at a stable level, regardless of the level of financial assets invested in the industry (Tolstykh 2018). The return on investment may decrease during the development and implementation of a new tourism service or product, but in a long period, the results of innovative activities of travel agencies and investment in the development of destinations become the basis of competitive strength (Sheresheva 2018). On the other hand, in the Russian domestic tourism, there are traditional cases of unjustified overpricing of popular destinations, when instead of a long-term focus on the client and investments in business development, an attempt is made to “bank the profit” on shabby-quality, but scarce services. In particular, such situation was discussed with regard to prices in Crimea in 2021, when the tourist flow in 2021 hit record: for the first time ever in the post-Soviet period, the region hosted 9.5 million guests, which was 20% more than in 2020 (Interfax 2021). However, in 2022, the region faced a severe underutilization of its recreational facilities due difficult situation in the region and constantly extended regime of temporary restriction on flights to 11 Russian airports rather than the pandemic. This turned out to be a serious lesson for local businesses to learn, they come to realize the need to fight for clients, use discounts and promotional offers.

It was during the pandemic that the option recognized as the most successful of all state support measures was found: tourist cashback — a program of the State subsidization of trips in Russia, developed by the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, according to which tourists can pay for a trip with a Mir card and receive a 20% cashback on the price (Rosturizm 2022). According to marker players, reduction in the tax burden failed to become a significant support (Sheresheva et al. 2021), while this program enjoyed a positive reaction from almost all market stakeholders and began to be regularly extended, as well as expanded (in particular, several waves of “children’s cashback” took place).

The pandemic crisis has made it necessary to combine “rapid response” measures with systematic activities to identify threats and opportunities in view of the medium- and long-term development. In this regard, there is a need for (Sheresheva 2020a):

  • Inventory of resources (federal, regional, municipal) and identification of profitable areas to be combined
  • Balanced development of infrastructure across the country.
  • Development of a system for specialized, including managerial, skills and competencies in the field of tourism.
  • Support and development of small and medium-sized businesses; development of both public-private and public-non-governmental partnerships.
  • Stimulation of social activity among the population though drawing attention to local initiatives, especially aimed at inter-municipal and interregional cooperation.
  • Destination branding in the modern sense of the word – as development of a positive image of the government and trust in it among the population and business and higher attractiveness of the territory, first of all, as a place to live, for investment, etc.
  • Identification of the most promising areas of development and types of tourism, and development of the proper incentive system.
  • Development of a unified system of indicators in the Russian Federation to balance benefits and costs of different stakeholders at different levels, with the long-term strategic goals of the Russian Federation in priority.

A strategy for developing competitive advantages of the domestic tourism industry should be aimed at the development of tourism infrastructure and organization of interregional and cross-border destinations. Effective are strategies focused on increasing competitive strength through innovation and adaptation to external conditions, and measures to ensure safety of tourists and development of all year-round event tourism.

The choice of survival strategy and competitive strategy in the tourism industry is based on the study of external conditions of business processes to reduce production costs. One of the tools can be a multiplicative analysis to assess profitability in the tourism industry and impact of production costs on competitive advantages of travel agencies.

Unlike previous decades and even the 2020 situation, the development of tourism has become one of the state-level priorities. In 2021, the Russian Federation adopted the state program “Tourism Development” until 2030, and also launched implementation of the National Project “Tourism and Hospitality Industry” with the following three Federal projects within its framework: FP 1 “Development of tourist infrastructure”, FP 2 “Increasing affordability of tourist services”, and FP 3 “Improving management in tourism”. In just a year, significant positive changes have been achieved. Thanks to the activities of the National Project, there has been an impressive increase in support for the industry: tourism financing has increased many times, from 7 billion rubles in 2019 to 74 billion rubles in 2022. The list of tourist territories receiving state support includes such locations as the Volga, Altai, Primorsky Krai, Kaliningrad Region, as well as mountainous areas of the Irkutsk Region, Republic of Buryatia, Baikal, Kamchatka. Opening of new tourist destinations is not limited to these regions, there is an intensive promotion of a number of new tourist brands and destinations (Living Heritage 2022).

The Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, relying on proposals of expert and analytical organizations, social communities and direct participants in the tourism industry, who have joined forces within the framework of commissions and working groups, has developed directions for gradual post-crisis recovery of the tourism industry. These developments formed basis of the National Project “Tourism and Hospitality” (Tourism and Hospitality 2021) launched in 2021. In addition to infrastructure development, significant support measures are envisaged for small and medium-sized enterprises, investment promotion, development of tourist macro-regions and domestic charter destinations, development of interregional schemes (the Far East, Crimea, “Big Golden Ring”), promotion of special events, systematic promotion on the domestic and world markets, development of digital services through support of the National Program “Digital Economy” (Digital Economy 2019). By now, more than 55 thousand objects, routes and services have been digitized.

The tourism industry is characterized by a variety of tasks related to the development of transport and logistic infrastructure, recreational resources, historical settlements and specially protected areas, diverse and differently-scaled businesses. The tourism industry is able to generate income in a number of related sectors of the economy with the resulting multiplier effect significantly affecting socio-economic development of territories acting as tourist destinations (Leonidova 2018). Therefore, the ambitious goals set for the coming years, related to reorientation of the tourism sector to domestic routes and inbound tourist flow, required a reboot of approaches to its management. In this regard, it seems natural to transfer in line with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated October 20, 2022 (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation 2022), functions of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism to the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation with the relevant deputy Minister responsible for comprehensive development of the industry. At the same time, tourism retains its own profile deputy Prime Minister in the Government of the Russian Federation.

In general, one can say that the Russian tourism sees the “light at the end of the tunnel” turned on at full power rather than a flicker of light, and the pandemic, which could have brought the industry to disaster, eventually served as a catalyst of positive processes.


Already in the first half of 2020, most serious experts argued that the coronavirus pandemic would be negatively affecting the tourism sector for years. Now it is safe to say that this impact is long-term, while consequences of the pandemic are mixed. The global tourism industry has witnessed a number of changes in the market structure and management approaches, while in Russia, the crisis turning point in 2020-2021 turned out to be a transition to intensive development of the domestic tourism, the value of which was realized by all market stakeholders, from federal government and regional administrations to small businesses and tourists themselves. The current situation contributes to outstripping development of the domestic tourism, further stimulated by growing measures of state support, concerning not only and not so much the most popular destinations, but deliberately aimed at diversifying tourist routes and their uniform distribution across the country and by season. The scale of tourism resources and wealth of the Russian Federation are becoming the main source of competitive advantages, while creation of sufficient infrastructure and management competencies in line with resources available is the main objective at the federal level. It is especially important that both traditional and new tourist destinations are affordable to all segments of the population, including people with relatively low income. It is affordable vouchers that contribute to the development of mass domestic tourism, gradually resolving the crisis situation in the industry, simultaneously improving quality of people’s lives. The implemented regulatory legal acts related to anti-crisis support at the federal level should be adapted to the regions, aimed at coordination between authorities and enterprises of the tourist and recreational sphere. It is equally important to understand that during a crisis such a multi-layered and complex industry as tourism can successfully develop only as a single business ecosystem. This implies both competition and mutual assistance, inter-organizational, inter-municipal and interregional cooperation between all stakeholders.

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Information about the authors

Marina Y. Sheresheva – Dr. of Econ., Full Professor in the Department of Applied Institutional Economics, Head of the Laboratory for Institutional Analysis, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119991, Russia. Email:

Oborin Matvey Sergeevich – Doctor of Economics, Professor of the Department of Economic Analysis and Statistics of the Perm Institute (Branch) of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Perm, 614070, Russia, 57 Gagarin Boulevard; Professor of the Department of World and Regional Economics, Economic Theory of the Perm State National Research University”, Perm, 614990, Russia, Bukireva str., 15; Professor of the Department of Management of the Perm State Agrarian and Technological University named after D.N. Pryanishnikova”, Perm, 614990, Russia, Petropavlovsk str., 23; E-mail:

1 The Government of the Russian Federation has managed to mainly dampen this problem through special measures to support companies of the industry, provided that jobs are fully or partially preserved (Government Decree No. 976, 2020).
2 According to N. Taleb’s theory, there are important, difficult to predict and rare events that go beyond the usual expectations. Such event (“Black Swan”) comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight (Taleb 2007).
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