An online session entitled ‘Plan not cancel. Changing the roadmap for tourism and event industries’ brought in both Russian and international experts. Participants suggested crisis relief measures and solutions for the coronavirus pandemic. They also assessed the impact of the crisis on businesses in tourism and event industry. The session was organized by the St. Petersburg Convention Bureau together with the Roscongress Foundation.
The session brought together Evgeny Pankevich, Chairman of the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development; Alexander Stuglev, Chairman and CEO of the Roscongress Foundation; Andrey Matsarin, General Director of the St. Petersburg Convention Bureau; Elena Lysenkova, Directorate of State Tourist Projects and Safety in Tourism of the Federal Tourism Agency; Igor Devyatko, Deputy Head of the Investment Committee of St. Petersburg; Marina Sheresheva, Doctor of Economics, Professor at the School of Economics of Moscow State University; Sergey Selivanov, Director of the Department of Exhibition, Fair and Congress Activities of the CCI of Russia; Dmitriy Ilin, Coordinator of UNWTO Affiliate Members Programme; Alexei Valkov, Director of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Mariska Kesteloo, founder of Word of MICE; Alexei Kalachev, Director of the Russian Convention Bureau; Yelena Ublieva, Executive Director of the Russian Union of Events and Fairs; and Guy Bigwood, Managing Director of Global Destination Sustainability Index.
Representatives of authorities, business community, and industry-related associations suggested their recommendations to regulate MICE and to put it back on track. They also shared their experience in making strategic decisions and adopting international recommendations and promising digital solutions.
The session addressed the support measure package for businesses in tourism and MICE industry that the Administration of St. Petersburg is currently preparing. These industries are prioritized as they bring money to the local budget and attract investors to the city. “We are studying potential support measures on all levels in order to provide aid to as many tourism-related companies as possible. We are trying to develop whole support modules that will have to be adopted as part of federal interaction,” said Evgeny Pankevich.
“The industry as a whole should consider the following factors. First of all, it is the taxes paid: when we focus on small and medium businesses that now require support, we forget about large companies that experience the same problems. However, the operation of the latter ones generated a lot more taxes. When it comes to support, we need to consider the industry as a whole. Secondly, we all need to unite under industry-related associations and think about the future convention and exhibition events. Thirdly, companies should be able to reduce their headcount and lay off the staff they currently do not involve in their operation. Those people will get help though taking to the job market. We need to finance tourism, convention and exhibition professionals who get laid off. Companies with reduced headcount will be able to stay afloat and quickly recover. Fourthly, our industry’s infrastructure needs support: airlines, convention and exhibition facilities, and hotels. Otherwise, we will lose the infrastructure for hosting our events,” emphasized Alexander Stuglev.
Participants of the online session discussed what products the industry may require in the near future. Experts believe that domestic and medical tourism is something we need to focus on. After the pandemic crisis is over, they will be the most sought after at the Russian market, including its MICE segment. This is precisely what Moscow and St. Petersburg are currently developing. “Medical tourism is becoming relevant as never before. This niche will most likely become a part of the convention and exhibition industry. Medical tourism events will be really popular,” noted Evgeny Pankevich.
Managing Director of GDS-Index Guy Bigwood (Barcelona, Spain) believes that the global crisis caused by the pandemic will help the both global tourism and global economy transform. It is hard to imagine what our new life will be like after we beat COVID-19.
The session was organized as a video conference. The audience could interact with the participating experts in a chat. All the suggestions for crisis relief measures in tourism and event industry that were put forward during the discussion will be used to develop the second business support measure package in St. Petersburg.
Full broadcast is available at Roscongress TV YouTube channel.