The chiefs of Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) are discontent with Chinese business, which allegedly help illegal tourists cluster. The conflict may influence not only the tourism business, but also a Chinese Business Centre, located in Saint-Petersburg, as well as to spoil the reputation of the whole Chinese diaspora.
At the end of May Rostourism sent an official letter to Chen Xi’an, the head of the Chinese association in Saint-Petersburg, Russian media says. Officials demand him to take “constructive stance” on the problem of Chinese illegal tourists business in Russia, and “stop pressuring” on government and Russian companies.
Such letter isn’t the first. Russian government tries to civilize Chinese business more than a year, but this seems to be first time officials made so tough statement. The flow of tourists from China to Russia increases every year: on 28% in 2015 and on 15% in 2016. Usually those are organized groups, led by a special Chinese guide, who is set by illegal business in order to control every movement. Tourists stay at Chinese hotels, eat in Chinese restaurants and buy souvenirs in Chinese shops. All the transactions are being made in China, in Chinese currency, so the money doesn’t even enter the Russian Federation. That obviously leads to unfair competition and tax evasion.
First time Russians were excited about “Chinese tourist’s invasion”, but now even citizens aren’t that happy. People from Saint-Petersburg say, the Chinese are loud, behave impolite in museums and take photos on every corner. Some of the hotels even raised the prices for such groups in order not to lose visitors from other countries. They also complain that guides doesn’t help, but only make more troubles. For example, promote new passion of Chinese – illegal brothels, obviously controlled by their curators.
The problem is that any attempts to regulate this sphere haven’t been successful yet. On the contrary, some officials from Rostourism lobbied new rules of international cooperation, which may make the situation even worse. In April they suggested to allow Chinese groups to stay for 21 days instead of 15. The average time Chinese tourist spends in Russia now is 7 days, so new rules may be used for illegal labour migration, market participants say. The situation, when the head of Rostourism doesn’t control his subordinates could be the last straw.
Chen Xi’an is known in Russia as a powerful businessman. The last time his family had troubles with government was 2002, when Russian police revealed a criminal group in Vladivostok, blackmailing local tourists business. It was controlled by Xiao Xi’an, who however escaped the judgment. On the other hand, now Chinese business has a lot of projects in Russia, so it has something to worry about. Such confrontation may concern not only tourism. Chen Xi’an is a vice-president of the Chinese Business Centre, located on the Finland bay in the middle of Saint Petersburg. If federal government uses power, development of this and other Chinese projects may be put into question.