'Smiling To Strangers Is Not A Part Of Russian Culture'
Russian Information Center issues guidelines for Indian tourists, offers tips on how to avoid difficult situations
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The Russian Information Center in India (RIC) has issued a handbook with a detailed list of Do's and Don'ts for Indian tourists visiting the country.
Based on the opinion of the Consulate General of Russian Federation here, the booklet aimed at reducing stressful situations and misunderstanding in predominantly non-English speaking and non-vegetarian country.
The RIC creates a detailed list of Do's and Don'ts for Indians travelling to Russia.
The handbook, that will be shared with tourism departments and associations and all travel agencies, says "the mentality and traditions of Russian and Indian people are similar in many ways - despite the significant difference in the lifestyles".
"These differences, as well as language gap, according to RIC experts, often create unnecessary problems for both Indian tourists and tour operators in Russia for whom RIC has issued a separate guidance on working with Indian tourists," it said.
Ekaterina Belyakova, head of RIC in India, said "We have been working on promoting bilateral tourism between Russia and India for over three years and have noted many cases of misunderstanding, concerns, that we've tried to address in this handbook. We felt warning people about some cultural traditions, social norms and customs, sentiments, even tastes, especially when it comes to food, is very important."
The handbook contains information and recommendations on how to go through immigration and passport control after arrival in Russia, how to take care of meals and where to find vegetarian options in Russia, how to behave with Russian authorities and common people and how to read their behaviour, which is often misleading.
"Smiling to strangers is not a part of Russian culture. Russians are polite and professional, and they do smile whole heartedly after they come to know you - which often takes time," the handbook says.
The handbook also deals with situations often leaving Indian tourists in Russia outraged - such as, for example, paid toilets or paid water.
"Drinking water is not free anywhere, like in other parts of Europe. You will have to buy small quantities which is expensive or stock up 5 litre cans available in product shops or hyper markets," the handbook says.
The handbook comes at the time when RIC is organising another 'fam' trip to to Moscow and St Petersburg for Indian travel agents as a part of the 'Indo-Russian Tourism Exchange' initiative launched in February 2016 in Mumbai. The first trip was in April.
"As outbound tourism in India grows faster than that of China, India as a target market has huge and largely unrecognised potential for Russian tourism industry," Paresh Navani, Managing Partner, RIC said.
"Russia has a lot to offer for Indian tourists, and it is not only beautiful nature or cultural heritage, but the warmth of Russian 'chai' and Russian peoples, too," he said.
According to the 'India Outbound Tourism Market' report by Renub Research, out of more than 18 million Indian tourists travelled abroad 2015, only 30,000 had visited Russia.
Considering that by 2030 the number of outbound tourists in India may reach 50 million, Russia has a huge potential to attract more Indian tourists in future, he said.
Launched in 2013, RIC in India works towards building positive relations between the citizens of Russia and India by promoting exchange of people visiting the respective countries.
With the support of central and state tourism departments in Russia and India, RIC is running its 'Indo-Russian Tourism Exchange' since earlier this year, with the objective of increasing tourism flow between the two countries and exploring investment opportunities in tourism sector.