President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Colleagues!
Today's gathering features the mayors of municipalities that form part of the world-famous Golden Ring cities and the representatives of the federal government.
We have wanted to do this for quite a while now, and it is a great opportunity to discuss all sorts of issues related to tourism, in the context of or in conjunction with local self-government. It is absolutely fitting that we do this here in Uglich, one of the most popular destinations on the Golden Ring.
I think that all of this city's problems are very similar to the problems that exist in other cities of the Golden Ring, and indeed in many of our country's cities. Also there are growth areas, as these cities have achieved a lot in recent times.
One such fast-growing sector is of course tourism. We know that our rich cultural and historical heritage is indeed a splendid resource for the development of tourism, but here we also have problems to spare.
As you are well aware, today tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. To date, the tourism industry employs over a million people. According to the figures that I've been given, total income from tourism is now very significant: last year it reached 833 billion rubles. This is very important for our economy as a whole. And we know that, in developing the spiritual and cultural attractions of these cities, we should think about how to put the tourism industry back on its feet economically.
These Golden Ring cities provide a great deal of income. They are traditionally attractive to tourists, and this was true in the Soviet period as well. And I need your views on how to develop tourism here, what conditions should be established, how quickly new jobs are being created, and how quickly you can open up additional services, build hotels, start up new small businesses, in sum everything that in effect defines the tourism infrastructure.
I would also like to hear separate proposals relating to information support for the Russian tourist market, because if we do not go about this correctly, properly, effectively, yet unobtrusively, then precisely what we are interested in won’t happen — tourists won't come.
Russia is a very big country, and many of our people tend to take holidays near where they live. In recent years or more recently, a whole series of foreign destinations have become very popular, but we are concerned about developing our domestic tourism.
It is obvious that domestic tourism should be accessible to broad segments of the population. Perhaps this is most important for schoolchildren and students, so that young people can learn about our country's history, by visiting places that are of historical importance to all of us.
As I have already suggested, another important issue related to this question and to the Golden Ring in particular is inextricably bound up with tourism, namely the reform of local self-government in those territories that are part of the Golden Ring. It is all too clear that this is not an easy thing to do. And we know why, but I propose to look at specific reasons, especially in the context of tourism.
There are many problems, including the way municipal assets are organised. Federal legislation concerning the free transfer of assets from the state to municipalities is not always observed. There are other problems as well. But, of course, the main problem is lack of funds for municipalities. This is a chronic problem and thus far unresolved.
One of the most important ways to solve this problem is the development of small business. Once again, I would like to say that, as President of the Russian Federation, I will keep the issue of small business development under constant review.
In general, I am very confident that Russia's Golden Ring cities have all the prerequisites to enjoy a breakthrough in small business development and, consequently, to develop their socio-economic potential.