So How ‘Open to the World’ is Russia?

20th Sep, 2018

When Russia was represented for the first time at IBTM World trade show by the collective stand RUSSIA OPEN TO THE WORLD, it became one of the most visited stands at the show, in 2017. HQ had a chat with Alexey Kalachev, director of the newly established Russian Convention Bureau during IMEX 2018.

  1. What is the main goal of establishing the Russian Convention Bureau (The National Convention Bureau Association), and your strategy to achieve that goal?

The turnover of congresses in the world is about $1 trillion, and Russia shares less than one percent of it. Our main goal is to improve the situation quickly. The main objective for the first year is to inform professional societies that we are established, and we are here to be a main tool for helping international organisers and companies who are planning or considering possibilities to organise events in Russia. The Russian Convention Bureau is a one-stop contact and support for them. We also provide special conditions for our members and companies from the events industry with financial support and exposure.

  1. How do you set out to achieve your main objective in the first year?

We actively promote the top 20 destinations in Russia abroad, each has different infrastructure development that caters to different kinds of business and sports events. The top 20 bid for events according to their capacity. Russia is rich in useful resources and new ideas because we have a developed event industry. There are 2,000 professional business event organisers, 2,000 service companies that provide a wide range of services for event organisers, 3,500 event sites, and 12,500 congress events are held in Russia on an annual basis.

Participating in specialised events of the event industry allows us to promote a positive image of Russia as a favourable place to hold events of any kind, and attract large international events. We present the event-driven potential of Russian regions and infrastructural possibilities of each destinations to the world’s largest players.

  1. Can you share with us the impact the bureau has experienced so far with international trade shows?

The IBTM World Trade Show at the beginning of last November was our first project, it was an intense moment for us, and it happened before we were officially established at the end of that month. It drew about 2000 visitors to the stand, which was a great opportunity for us to promote our destinations abroad to the international market, and inform everyone that Russia is a huge country with different features in culture, long-term history, modern infrastructure for different events, and so on…

It is our first time here in IMEX Frankfurt, but this is our second international trade show experience. We have here with us the key players of the Russian event industry from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Republic of Tatarstan, Sochi, Sverdlovsk and other regions. By collecting the Russian industry professionals at Russia ‘Open to the World’ national stand, we are here to show the possibilities of Russia but also to create a cooperative relationship with our foreign colleagues.

  1. Surely, Russia has other strengths as a meetings destination, can you list some for our readers?

Russia has profitable price conditions on the market, due to currency rate fluctuation, the cost of services related to business events organisation in Russia is much lower than in Europe.

We have a rich cultural and historical heritage. As we are composed of 85 regions united administratively and territorially, and eight federal districts, the country offers a wide diversity of territories for business and cultural events organisation. Russia is also one of the top ten places in the world by the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, with 17 cultural monuments and eleven natural reserves.

As we are supported by the government of the Russian Federation, we are cooperating with main state corporations and ministry of international affairs to reduce potential bureaucratic barriers for delegates. We achieved a no-visa policy for Asia, visa-free entry to Russia for the citizens of over 30 countries, and 72-hour visa-free regime for foreign citizens arriving to Russia on cruise liners. The visa regime is simplified for organisers, operators or participants for the period of important international events.

  1. What else is on your agenda?

The Russian Convention Bureau would also like to establish regional convention bureaus. We have eight of them in Russia at the moment, and we looking forward to support the establishment of 30 regional convention bureaus in five years’ time.

  1. What do you foresee the World Cup 2018 can bring to Russia?

The World Cup will leave behind new infrastructure in the eleven regions. On a positive note, there will be new stadiums, hotels, conference centres and media centres for us to promote abroad. This also poses a big challenge for us, to fill up these venues with other events when the World Cup is over. The Sochi Winter Olympic Games put Sochi on the map and we are still reaping the benefits post-event.

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