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St. Petersburg Tourism and Alternatives
October 31, 2007 21:33

This summer the British company Mercer Human Resource Consulting published a research of European cities` attractiveness from the point of view of travellers and gave St. Petersburg the 5th position in the rating of the most expensive cities in Europe (after Moscow, Geneva, London, and Zurich) and the 12th position in the list of the most expensive cities of the world.

However, despite the high prices, the Northern capital of Russia remains attractive for travellers. According to the Investments and Strategic Projects Committee of St. Petersburg administration, 4.5 million tourists visited the city in 2006; 2.5 million of them came from abroad, which is 10% more than in 2005.

The Committee links the increased influx of foreign guests to St. Petersburg with the programme of travel business development for 2005-2010. “Last year 150 million roubles were allotted for the programme realization. Travel is now one of the highest priority directions of St. Petersburg development”, as representative of the Committee Galina Gromova clarifies. According to her, the success is partially a product of St. Petersburg advertising on foreign TV-channels, creation of the city’s own tourist brand, and exhibition events. “The number of crimes against travellers in St. Petersburg is not higher or smaller than that, for instance, in Paris”, Gromova explains.

Summer is the most fruitful period for the tour agencies organizing excursions around the city and the nearby areas. The services are usually rather standard and the prices are traditionally different for foreigners and the Russian citizens: foreign guest often have to pay a double price.

In order to attract travellers some of the tour agencies sometimes offer the old concepts under a new cover. For instance, one of the organizations promises to show 8 famous St. Petersburg bridges simultaneously from the same spot on water. However, the promise turned out to be a commercial trick. Although such spot really exists in the city (it is the crossing of two channels – Griboedova and Kryukova), it allows to see only 7 bridges instead of 8, and not all but just a few of them can be called famous.

An alternative variant of excursion programme was found on the Internet. Travellers are offered a project called “Parallel Petersburg”, which shows travellers the city from the “inside”.

There are also some special tours to the city’s “hot spots” and excursion programmes called “not for men”, aimed at women only. As the tourist guides explain, these excursions are not supposed to be entirely for homosexual women but in fact they usually form the tour groups. The programme includes visiting various establishments, lobbies of St. Petersburg palaces, and night clubs for people with non-traditional orientation.

Another excursion agency offers walking tours to roofs of St. Petersburg buildings. Such excursions are organized rather chaotically. “Parallel Petersburg is called parallel because entrances to the city are irregular: one day they open, and the other day they can close”, as the organizers explain. The agency is sure that after their services will become popular among foreign guests of the city once they are available in English.


Lavrentyeva Natalya

Tags: St. Petersburg     

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