Opening the box: unlocking the tourism potential of the former Soviet states

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In terms of tourism potential, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union represent a huge potential market of some 430 million people. The variety of landscape, climate and tourist attractions is considerable, with the Russian Federation (RSFSR) alone covering a geographical area twice that of the USA and extending over eleven time zones. The region is, however, faced with severe economic difficulties to overcome if tourism development is to succeed. The article reviews the organization of the tourist industry under communist rule and the notable features of overseas visitors patterns such as spatial concentration in key major cities, and in a small network of large hotels, the move to a market economy in general and specifically, the beginnings of tourism development in the Russian Federation. The predominant mode of foreign investment going into the emerging tourism sector of the Russian Federation is similar to that of all the former Soviet states. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has identified the country as a priority investment area, one of eight Eastern European countries. Eastern Europe offers extensive possibilities for growth. Moscow has seen unprecedented growth in hotel stock since 1990 and is clearly a prime development target. St. Petersburg offers a similar range of opportunities. The problems of dated technology, inadequate infrastructure and the lack of appropriately skilled management the discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalLeisure Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • tourism markets
  • Eastern Europe
  • tourism development
  • Russian Federation
  • infrastructure


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