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BRICS countries' tourism: revival after the pandemic

The BRICS nations experiencing a surge in tourism

According to official statistics of Federal State Statistics Service, the BRICS countries account for a significant share of the global tourism market. Tourists are mainly attracted by unique cultural experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and a wide range of travel options.

Official data shows that from the BRICS countries, although the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a significant blow to the tourism industry worldwide, the BRICS countries are now witnessing a gradual revival fuelled by pent-up demand and strategic efforts to revitalise the tourism sector.

Nikolay Yakushev, researcher of the Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science “Vologda Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences“ (VolRC RAS), said in an exclusive commentary to TV BRICS about tourism sector of the BRICS countries.

"The international tourism market of the BRICS countries, according to the International Trade Centre for 2022, shows a trend towards recovery. Thus, the growth in the value of exports and imports under the article "trips" in the period from 2020 to 2022 is about 116 and 112 per cent, respectively."

China’s tourism growth

According to the report by Xinhua News Agency, a partner of TV BRICS, the total number of Chinese tourists in 2024 exceeded 190 million people, which is more than 280 per cent more than in the previous year.

From January to March 2024, about 60 per cent of the total number of tourists went on vacation to the Chinese resort of Hainan, 30 per cent visited mainland China (mainly large cities like Beijing, Shanghai, etc.), and 10 per cent of the total number of Russian tourists went on vacation to China.

It is expected that this year the Russian tourist flow to China will exceed 3 million people. Such forecasts are supported by plans announced by the country's aviation regulator, which has published a five-year development plan that focuses on expanding domestic flights and restoring international air travel by 2025.


Russian tourism is on the upswing

On March 28, 2024, at a meeting on the development of the project of federal year-round resorts, Vladimir Putin said that more than 400 billion rubles will be allocated for the implementation of the national tourism project "Tourism and Hospitality Industry" until 2030.

This, according to the country's leader, will increase the availability of various types of recreation in Russia for travellers, from skiing to beach resorts.

Since 2022, Russia has also been running the Land for Tourism project, which allows authorities and businesses to plan the construction of new tourist infrastructure facilities. By 2023, 45 Russian regions joined the project, up from 16 last year.

In addition, from August 1, 2023, citizens of 55 foreign countries can obtain an electronic visa to enter the Russian Federation through checkpoints.


Saudi Arabia: Unveiling a New Era of Tourism

Saudi Arabia's tourist areas were also affected during the period of COVID restrictions. During COVID-19, efforts and policies focused on promoting domestic tourism while continuing to develop proposals, regulations, and policies to accommodate inbound tourism after the pandemic.

However, according to official figures of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the country will have already welcomed more than 100 million tourists in 2023.

Tourism experts believe that the significant influx of both domestic and international visitors in 2023 highlights the industry's key role in diversifying and strengthening Saudi Arabia's economy, which contributes more than 4 per cent to GDP.

The report of WTTC stressed that the total number of tourists visiting Saudi Arabia rose to 106.2 million in 2023, up 56 per cent from 2019 and 12 per cent from 2022. Notably, the number of international travellers reached 27.4 million – 56 per cent more than before the pandemic and up a "staggering" 65 per cent on the previous year.

Saudi Arabia plans to attract 25 million international tourists in 2023; and, with the region's growing appeal as a historical and cultural attraction, the Gulf tourism industry is prepared for rapid growth.


New Frontier for UAE Tourism

One of the UAE's major tourism initiatives after COVID-19, the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031, is included in the 'Projects 50' section as one of the biggest projects of the coming years. The strategy includes 25 initiatives and strategies aimed at developing the UAE's tourism sector.

In 2023, Dubai has announced plans to double its economy with US$8.7 trillion in economic development; the UAE plans to allocate US$27 billion to tourism.

According to UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the contribution of the vibrant tourism sector to the UAE's national economy will grow in 2024, putting the country on the right track to achieve its goal of increasing tourism's share of GDP to US$122,5 billion by 2031.


Brazil aims to attract more foreign tourists

Brazil, like the other BRICS countries, has launched a number of initiatives in the tourism sector.

Brazil started a trial programme to boost the number of seats and foreign planes that arrive in the nation. This was reported on the official website of the Brazilian government. An unprecedented programme called the "International Tourism Acceleration Programme (PATI)" would be put into effect by means of public-private partnerships with airports and airlines.

The Brazilian Ministry of Ports and Airports, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Brazilian Agency for International Tourism Promotion (Embratur) are working together to manage the programme. The National Civil Aviation Fund (FNAC) is the source of the funding. According to officials, through this programme, the state intends to adapt the best international practices to attract new tourists.


India's tourism sector grows

The number of foreign tourists in India in 2023 has increased by 64 per cent over 2022. This was reported by the India Brand Equity Foundation.

They also said that the tourist flow in India was partly stimulated by the efforts of the country's officials to rebuild tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic and major infrastructure projects.

For example, the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi, which connected a temple and the Ganges River, facilitated access to two of the most famous religious sites in the country. In addition, according to official figures, more than US$200 billion has been spent on improving India's transport sector over the past decade, and the number of airports in the country has doubled.


Egypt boosts eco-tourism plans

Egypt is actively promoting an eco-tourism programme, introducing sustainable development into the tourism sector through cooperation between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. This is reported by the official website of the Egyptian government.

The initiative includes establishing nature reserves, regulating activities in them, and promoting eco-friendly practices.

The success of the initiative would already be appreciated by foreign tourists. According to the official website of the Egyptian government, Egypt's tourism industry received a record 14.9 million visitors in 2023, surpassing the previous record of 14.7 million set in 2010.


Iran cancels tourist visas

The World Tourism Organisation has announced an upward trend in foreign tourist arrivals in Iran in 2024. The statistics of this institution show that in the first quarter of 2024, the arrival of foreign tourists in the country increased by 60 per cent. In the first quarter of this year, 1 million 398 thousand foreign tourists visited Iran.

Iran eased visa procedures and cancelled visas for citizens of 33 countries in December 2023.

The decision increased to 45 the number of countries or territories whose citizens will be able to visit Iran without the need for a visa, the report said.

The Iranian government expects the initiative to lead to flourishing tourism in the country after the decline in the spread of the coronavirus.


South African Tourism Sector Recovery Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic plunged South Africa's tourism sector into an unprecedented crisis. In response, the Department of Tourism initiated the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP) to facilitate the recovery of the sector.

This plan has three strategic themes, namely: renewing demand, restoring supply, and strengthening capacity. The government programme has already borne fruit, according to the official South African government website.

According to South Africa's national statistics agency (Stats SA), the number of international travellers arriving in South Africa between January and December 2023 was 8.5 million. This represents an increase of 48.9 per cent over the same period in 2022.

brics-countries-tourism-revival-after-the-pandemic (2).jpg

Ethiopian Tourism Overview

According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), Ethiopia is becoming a very favourable investment destination for those interested in the tourism sector.

The Commission highlights that Ethiopia presents a number of investment prospects, including the construction of tourism infrastructure such as hotels, resorts, convention centres, duty-free centres, and cultural villages and centres.


First BRICS tourism forum

On June 20–21, 2024, Moscow hosts the first BRICS tourism forum. The event is being organised by the Ministry for Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Government of Moscow. This is reported by the official website of Russian 2024 BRICS Chairmanship.

Deputy Mayor of Moscow Natalia Sergunina stated that “Today, travellers from BRICS countries account for over half the trips taken from remote countries to Moscow. The Forum will help secure for the Russian capital the status of a leading world tourist centre. The business event will bring together over 300 representatives of related departments, the business community, heads of associations, and industry experts.”

"One of the options for cooperation between the BRICS countries in the field of tourism may be the creation of a digital platform, and with it, in the future, the development of an application for use by individuals (in the format of an 'online hotel booking system'), as well as a single information space where all the necessary information about tourism in the BRICS countries will be presented. One of the directions that is relevant for the development of the scientific and technological space of the BRICS will be the development of 'smart' tourism"

Nikolay Yakushev TV BRICS expert in the field of international trade

A number of talks on important facets of collaboration and the growth of the tourism sectors in the BRICS nations are also included in the event schedule. Take the "Digitalisation of the Recreation and Hospitality Industry" workshop, for example. "Artificial intelligence" will focus on the growth of the internet sector and how contemporary technologies are affecting it.

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