In an interview with Travel And Tour World, Sagid Zaremukov, CEO of Russian Convention Bureau puts the accent on the responsibilities and business plans of the Russian Convention Bureau to promote MICE tourism in Russia:
Travel And Tour World: What are the key responsibilities of Russia Convention Bureau (RCB) for the development of the MICE industry?
Sagid Zaremukov: The Russian Convention Bureau was founded in November 2017 with the support of the Government of the Russian Federation for effective development of the event industry of the country, its integration in the global meetings industry.
As part of its mission to create a positive image of Russia as a country with a favourable business and investment climate through the development and support of the national event industry, the RCB identifies the following key goals:
• attracting significant international business events- increasing the flow of business tourists to Russia
• increase in export earnings for Russian companies in the meeting industry
• development of the country’s event market (event industry)
• promotion of the event potential of Russian regions in the domestic and foreign markets.
Among the priority tasks of the RCB activity are: the formation of a national marketing event product, the attraction and promotion of international events in Russia, the representation of the industry in international industry associations and authorities, and the improvement of the quality of services through professional training. The Russian Convention Bureau sees its priority task in supporting industry enterprises, especially given the current impact of the epidemiological situation, as well as in uniting and collaborating the industry, developing new promising areas of activity.
The Russian Convention Bureau operates in the format of the Association and its members are regional convention bureaus, professional organizers and operators of events (PCO, DMC, PEO), congress venues, service providers and other industry representatives from all over the country. By 2022, the number of members of the Association was more than 100 companies from among the leading players in the event industry from 21 constituent entities of the Russian Federation.
Travel And Tour World: What are your plans regarding the Annual Congress of the European Association for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (EABCT) which is to be held in Russia in 2023?
Sagid Zaremukov: We hope to see more “live participation”, participants from Europe, and we also plan to collect a significant number of participants from the Russian region.
Firstly, we hope to return to face-to-face events and plan to see more European participants in Moscow. And secondly, the Russian community also has the goal of attracting a large number of Russian colleagues from the regions to the congress. There is an intention to attract the attention of the local community and gather a significant number of participants from the Russian regions, at least 300 people, and in a good scenario up to 400-500, which will provide an opportunity for their development, and will also be useful for the potential expansion of membership for the European association.
Travel And Tour World: Looking back at the year 2021, how challenging has been the year 2021 for Russia Convention Bureau? What are your plans for 2022 to retain your position in the event industry?
Sagid Zaremukov: We all know that the past year was difficult, but work has already been carried out on the restoration of the industry – in compliance with sanitary and epidemiological requirements, the largest international forums were held, work was actively carried out in the domestic market in terms of the development of business tourism, many projects were based on the resumption of international cooperation and access to foreign markets. Of course, active work was carried out with government authorities in terms of lobbying the interests of the industry and searching for new prospects.
In 2021, the Russian Convention Bureau, together with leading industry associations and associations, took steps to support the domestic convention and exhibition industry.
The key topic of the business agenda of the Russian Convention Bureau in 2021 was the presentation of the convention and exhibition industry as a safe communication channel and an effective tool for economic development.
And in general, in 2021, the situation on the event market was very different from what we observed the year before last. For example, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum took place in St. Petersburg. In June, more than 13,500 participants from 141 countries were able to come to the Northern capital, despite ongoing restrictions. In early September, the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region and the development of the Far Eastern regions of Russia. The forum brought together about 4,000 participants. In October, Moscow hosted the International Forum Russian Energy Week 2021, which brought together 2,500 participants from more than 80 countries. And at the same time, the Eurasian Women’s Forum was held in the northern capital, which, with the participation of more than two and a half thousand people, certainly became a bright international event.
For the Russain Convention Bureau, 2021 has been a busy year, and we expect that the next year, 2022, will be even more active, and the resources and efforts that were invested during the period of forced calm will allow us to move forward at an accelerated pace.
Among the key tasks of the RCB for 2022, we see such areas as the project of creating a network of regional congress bureaus, work on standardizing activities for companies in the congress and exhibition industry, forming an international agenda taking into account new realities, as well as making legislative initiatives for authorities.
Travel And Tour World: Since RCB has just published ‘The Event Potential Rating of the Russian Regions for 2021’, how would you evaluate the development of event tourism which received high score in the ranking?
Sagid Zaremukov: In 2021, a set of evaluated performance indicators – such as availability of specialized infrastructure and material and technical base, availability of a program to promote the region as a tourist destination in the domestic and foreign markets, the presence of an approved policy for the development of the region’s congress and exhibition potential, experience in attracting and holding significant high-level events, tourist attractiveness and transport accessibility of the destination – was extended based on the relevant trends linked to the growing impact of event tourism. The rating scope included a new set of indicators on regions’ event tourism performance.
In 2021, when international travel has been reduced to a minimum, many regions have focused on the development of domestic tourism, including event tourism. Many corporations also held their events in the morning market. Taking into account the huge diversity of Russian regions, as well as in combination with the availability of the necessary infrastructure, a number of regions were able to raise their positions in the ranking precisely thanks to such an indicator as the development of event tourism.
The top three leaders kept their positions. St. Petersburg, still leading the Rating, has a well-developed event infrastructure and is actively enhancing and promoting its brand both in external and domestic markets, and has extensive experience in the hosting of major international events. Sverdlovsk Region and the Republic of Tatarstan, as regions having a high event potential, also kept their second and third positions in the Rating. While Tatarstan kept its third place as in 2020, it improved its score reducing the gap with Sverdlovsk Region. The improvement in its ranking is mainly driven by the indicators reflecting the expertise in convention hosting and attracting major international events to the region. Sverdlovsk Region kept its second place in the Rating due to a higher score for event industry development strategy, industry support, and its performance in the Russian Event Awards. In most other positions, Sverdlovsk Region and the Republic of Tatarstan are almost equal.
Nizhny Novgorod Region significantly improved its overall indicators advancing from the 11th to the 4th place. In 2021, Nizhny Novgorod celebrated its 800th anniversary, which contributed to a significant improvement of the city’s architecture, including the construction and launch of a new 3,200 sq m exhibition pavilion, upgrades of existing pavilions, and area improvements. The rich anniversary event agenda formed a solid groundwork for the development of event tourism, which received high overall scores in the Rating.
In this year’s Rating, Krasnodar Region and Sochi are for the first time considered as a single region.Moscow’s results, as the capital region with great resource capacities, are not considered in the overall ranking.
Travel And Tour World: What are the major events on the cards in the year 2022?
Sagid Zaremukov: We look forward to seeing more “live participation” and participants from Europe and other countries in 2022, we hope that postponed events will take place and decisions will be made on previously submitted applications for events postponed due to the pandemic. We very much look forward to intensifying the activities of associations in terms of planning live meetings. We also plan to resume international activities in terms of participation in international exhibitions and organizing press tours and buyer tours for foreign guests.
We plan to visit IMEX and IBTM World, take part in the largest Russian international forums in St. Petersburg, Sochi and Vladivostok, as well as industry events across the country remain on our agenda.
On 24 – 27 October 2022 the 25th World Energy Congress will be held in St Petersburg. The World Energy Council has announced Russia as the next host for the World Energy Congress in 2022. The bidding campaign for the right to host the World Energy Congress 2022 was conducted by the Russian Convention Committee of World Energy Council, the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation with the participation and support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as well as the Roscongress Foundation, the Russian Convention Bureau, the Convention and Exhibition Bureau of St.Petersburg and the Expo Forum-International (official venue of the event).
Travel And Tour World: How is Russia Convention Bureau collaborating with the convention centres to host successful events in Russia?
Sagid Zaremukov: The Russian Convention Bureau actively cooperates with its partners, which include regional convention bureaus and organizations that perform their functions, leading convention and exhibition venues and congress hotels. We interact in the framework of bidding for international events and in holding domestic events. Most of them are the members of the Russian Convention Bureau Association.
Travel And Tour World: What marketing strategies have you adopted to promote MICE tourism in Russia?
Sagid Zaremukov: In 2019-2020, the Russian Convention Bureau cooperated with ENITED Business Events (Austria) and Roscongress Foundation for working on the strategy of promoting Russia as a favourable place for business events, which is expected to become the foundation of RCB activities on the international market. The main goal was to determine key directions for working with international associations and more effective promotion of various regions of the country, considering the expectations that foreign audiences have.
Also in its regional agenda, the RCB is guided by the annual results of the Rating of the Event Potential of the Regions. The rating is a tool for developing areas of cooperation and making efforts to develop the event potential of the regions and bid for events.