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Russia in the APEC Working Group on Tourism

Today, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is one of the most important international platforms for Russia. This is demonstrated by the figures showing thatAPEC economies account for:

  • 53.7% of GDP in the global tourism market (+4.2% compared to 2017);
  • 42.6% of global export value (+3.3% compared to 2017); 
  • more than 45% of global investments;
  • 46.8% of jobs (+2.3%);
  • 32.7% of international arrivals (464.7 million tourist arrivals were registered in 2018, +5.5% compared to 2017).

As underlined in several APEC documents, tourism plays a significant role for the member states. In the Declaration of the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (November 2017, Vietnam) the parties have agreed to promote sustainable tourism and explore its potential for the development of remote areas. Remote area development is an important part of the APEC Growth Strategy and is seen as a tool to enhance people-to-people connectivity. The document determined the target of 800 million international tourist arrivals within APEC by 2025 (doubling of the current number).

This intention creates a good opportunity for Russia to complete one of the primary tasks in the tourism industry — increase the export of Russian tourist services worldwide. Taking into account that APEC unites twenty-one economies, including large tourist markets (China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, etc.), this task is given high priority.

The APEC Tourism Working Group was formed in 1991 and is aimed to create favorable conditions for tourism development in the region. The Federal Agency for Tourism actively cooperates with the APEC Working Group. During the Russian chairmanship of APEC in 2012 the Agency developed the APEC Guidelines on Ensuring Tourist Safety. The document provides for the development of unified measures that meet the interests of APEC economies in ensuring the safety of travellers.

In 2013 as a follow-up to the Guidelines the Federal Agency for Tourism developed the ‘Smart Traveller’ Programme to Facilitate International Travel in the APEC Region. The 'Smart Traveller' program capitalize on cutting-edge information technology and keep travelers connected to their home countries in case of an emergency abroad, such as an earthquake or civil unrest, or informed about an emergency at home. There are also important contacts that can be useful in case of emergency. In addition, tourists can use a special portal to search for important information on overseas travel (entry and exit, laws, health issues, etc.), register their contact details and travel plans and/or subscribe to recommendations for travellers. So far the program has been successfully implemented by some member states. In Russia the program was launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the "Foreign assistant" mobile app.

In 2017 the Federal Agency for Tourism continued working on projects that are important for the APEC economies.

In June 2017 the Agency presented the project "Prospect Analysis for Sustainable Development of Tourism in Remote Areas Of APEC Economies". The project was based on the Integrated Initiative of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development "Bridging Gap in Economic Development and Integration of Remote Areas for Sustainable Growth in the APEC Region", that was presented at the First Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM1) in Vietnam in February, 2017.

The development of remote territories is undoubtedly a matter of deep interest for APEC, whose member economies have a large number of such territories experiencing certain social and economic problems that hinder the growth of their tourist attractiveness.

The initiative of Russia was supported by some of APEC member states. The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia became co-sponsors of this tourism project.

The project, implemented by the APEC expert team in 2019, was aimed at studying the conditions for a safe and comfortable stay of tourists in remote areas. To achieve that goal, the member states must solve social, infrastructure and economic problems of such territories, as well as identify the ways to realise their tourist potential.

The results of the research and the recommendations developed were presented at the APEC expert seminar held on October 10-11, 2019 in Manila (the Republic of the Philippines).