Tag: Attract

Siberian ski resort hopes to attract locals cut off from the Alps by travel restrictions

By Mikhail Zakharov

SHEREGESH, Russia (Reuters) – A Siberian ski resort is aiming to replace the Alps as Russians’ preferred winter holiday destination this season as travel to many countries remains forbidden because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sheregesh ski resort, located in the Kemerovo region some 3,225 kilometres (2,004 miles) east of Moscow, kicked off its season last week, with officials making face masks mandatory on all ski lifts.

Many ski resorts in Europe have been forced to delay their season openings or close as the second wave of the pandemic has forced some countries to impose new restrictions and even lockdowns.

Russian authorities have said they would not order a nationwide lockdown as they did earlier in the pandemic, stressing the importance of hygiene and targeted restrictions in some regions instead.

Barred from travelling to most foreign destinations — with the exception of countries including Turkey, Britain and Tanzania — Russians are turning to domestic vacation spots like Sheregesh.

“Despite a large influx of tourists in the summer, we didn’t allow any coronavirus outbreaks to occur at our ski resorts,” said Anton Pyatovsky, minister of tourism of the Kemerovo region, which has reported more than 18,000 cases of COVID-19.

Apart from wearing masks on ski lifts, visitors will no longer be able to rent helmets and ski masks at the resort to prevent the infection from spreading, Pyatovsky added.

Actor Alexander Nosik, who attended the resort’s opening, said he saw the potential for Sheregesh to compete with more famous Alpine and North American ski resorts.

“I hope that one, two, three years will pass… and Sheregesh will become a strong rival to the Alps, North America and everywhere else. It has everything to achieve this,” he said.

Siberia’s Sheregesh will compete with other domestic ski resorts like Sochi, which is easier to access for visitors from Moscow and St. Petersburg, and warmer.

With nearly 2 million infections since the start of the pandemic, Russia has the world’s fifth largest number of cases behind the United States, India, Brazil and France.

(Additional reporting by Dmitry Turlyun; Writing by Gabrielle T├ętrault-Farber; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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1 Hotel Chain Is Going to Great Lengths to Attract Guests

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the hotel industry. Hotels have seen a 50% decline in revenue this year coupled with an 80% vacancy rate, and 2020 is projected to be the worst year on record for the industry as a whole.

It’s for this reason that one hotel chain is thinking outside the box in its latest marketing initiative. Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) has officially launched a yacht-cation escape package, which allows hotel guests to board a luxury yacht as part of their stay and enjoy a sailing adventure. While this package is currently available in Southeast Asia, if it proves successful, MHR could seek to expand it — and other hotels might aim to offer similarly creative vacation packages.

A unique approach to a growing problem

The travel industry has been sluggish since the pandemic took hold. Not only are individuals cutting back on leisure travel due to safety concerns and financial constraints (let’s not forget that millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the course of the ongoing recession), but companies are limiting business travel as well, opting for virtual conferences over in-person gatherings. All of this has battered the hotel industry, which is growing increasingly desperate for revenue by the day, so it’s not surprising to see at least one hotel chain taking its marketing efforts in a brand-new direction.

This new offering from MHR is actually effective for a couple of reasons. First, it’s different. Skittish travelers may be more willing to pack their bags and throw caution to the wind if, in return, they actually get to experience the wind in their hair. Furthermore, the yacht-cation can appeal to locals as well as visitors who need to board a plane to take advantage of it. That opens up a more extensive market.

Will more hotels follow suit?

The fact that one hotel chain has managed to get creative in a crunch doesn’t mean that hotels will be magically saved. But if more hotels take a similar approach to drawing in guests, it could be just the thing that infuses some revenue into a struggling industry and calms investors’ nerves.

Of course, offering yacht excursions won’t be practical or possible for most hotels. But higher-end establishments may want to jump on MHR’s good idea and start thinking of ways to offer a unique luxury experience that appeals to stay-cationers and out-of-towners alike. The near-term challenge, of course, will be crafting experiences that are exceptional yet safe. With the pandemic still raging, many otherwise good ideas will inevitably be off the table.

Still, right now, hotels need revenue to stay afloat until the pandemic ends and a surge in demand kicks in, and so operators and marketing gurus alike will need to put their thinking caps on and come up with different, cost-effective ways to entice guests to book a stay. This is especially important given that holiday travel will likely be slow due to the greater crisis at hand.


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