Central regions | Tourism, recreation | Finance, business
Russia considers domestic alternative to Tripadvisor or Booking.com
6 Oct '14
Russia could create a national online hotel booking platform, East-West Digital News, the first all English-language online resource dedicated to Russian digital industries, reported in late September, citing Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky.
“There are plans to create [such a] system. Now we are looking very actively for business partners who can develop a Russian analog to Tripadvisor or Booking.com,” Mr. Medinsky said at a Public Chamber session in Moscow.
The minister said creating a system of that type is not a task for the government but, nonetheless, the Ministry of Culture is ready to allocate funds to support the inception phase of the project. “For some reason, business hasn’t really taken this up, but there are a lot of claims to a booking network like Booking.com,” the minister added.
Booking.com already does have at least two analogs on the Russian market – Ostrovok.ru and Travel.ru (formerly Oktogo.ru). The start-ups were initially backed by Western investors.
Some Russian market players appear to support this government initiative, saying that “in the current political situation, this segment should be controlled by local companies.”
Another reason for this latest government move could be an avalanche of scandals that nearly crippled Russia’s tourist business this past summer. More than 130,000 Russian tourists, wishing to take vacations in international seaside resorts and using the service of some famous domestic tourist operators, failed to not only get their money’s worth but also to simply find a place to spend a night in, as their tourist operators hadn’t paid for their stay at hotels. Some were left stranded at airports, unable to fly back home because their air tickets hadn’t been booked.