The tourism stakeholders operating in Arkhangelsk Region are oriented towards obtaining the statistics describing the incoming and outgoing tourist flows, the price-formation, infrastructural and economic factors, the target customers’ preferences and competitors’ performance. To forecast own development, the companies should be able to trace interregional, Russian and international statistics and to keep their customers and business partners registers. Among other data in demand, the special knowledge of allowable recreational payloads, of scientific research outcomes, of situational analysis and of the opportunities available at regional and international tourist markets is required. The growing need in precise and comparable data requires further improvement of statistical data collection systems utilized both in Russia and its regions. It is presently difficult to obtain data from the region’s travel companies. Given the changes on the tourism market, there grows the need in studying statistical indices necessary for comprehensive monitoring of the tourism sector.
As noted by the travel agencies operating in Arkhangelsk Region, the local tourism sector suffers from the lack of knowledge and insufficient marketing research enabling to forecast market trends, risks and target audience’s preferences, to timely respond to the market changes and to identify and areas most promising tourism-wise. The agencies further noted the high cost of marketing services and the necessity to involve science and education in marketing research.
In this respect, of growing value is the study of Russia’s and other countries’ best practices and innovative techniques for tourism products marketing and promotion through traineeships, international topical round tables, conferences, trainings and study trips. It appears relevant, when it comes to obtaining knowledge of tourist product sales techniques, to review companies’ case studies of customer attraction, to analyze travel companies’ sales flowcharts, to do benchmarking, to identify the weaknesses and logistics’ strengths and downsides, to identify and circulate typical case studies and best practices (for instance, IT marketing techniques, etc.).
In addition, tourism sector in Arkhangelsk Region requires the enhancement of existing and introduction of new curricula and educational and advanced training/re-training programs. The research has proved that the regional tour operators need flexible and interactive programs meeting the employers’ and the students’ needs. Such programs should take into consideration geographical distance from educational centers; limited availability of funding for training the officials in remoter municipalities; trainees’ inability to attend full-time courses; need in practical skills. The development of educational products should rely on current monitoring results; forecast trends in travel companies’ demand in personnel; PPP principles and partnerships with tourism stakeholders targeting Arkhangelsk tourism sector’s need in personnel advanced training and re-training; more dynamic involvement of the travel companies managers and regional authorities into program and course elaboration process. Among the most in-demand and viable are the short-term advanced training courses in hospitality and hotel business that target better service quality. The programs should be practically-oriented and provide for on-site training at tourism companies. Such programs should also rely on problem-based learning methods. Promising in this regard are distance learning formats and module approach. The employees of travel companies highlight the growing need in learning foreign languages (English and Scandinavian languages), enhanced cross-cultural and multimedia competencies, project management and fund-raising skills. Universities are keenly interested in developing the joint tourism-related educational programs and courses in partnership with foreign high schools. It is necessary to further support professional mobility and arrange traineeships for travel companies’ managers and employees in Arkhangelsk Region and abroad, for instance within the framework of Erasmus Mundus EU Program.
Travel companies in Arkhangelsk Region are maintaining and interested in expanding their partnership relations with foreign companies. Among key barriers in the international tourism cooperation are shortage of information about potential partners; Arkhangelsk Region’s weak status in the international market; poor knowledge of foreign languages and cross-cultural aspects of interaction; poor knowledge of project management; competition; underdeveloped image of the region’s tourist products; logistical challenges (unavailability of direct flight connection, for instance). Potentially, the international cooperation could be activated through the newly established web portal offering the details of the companies and tourism-related international events calendar; more active support by the authorities; representation of Arkhangelsk travel companies’ interests in relevant international associations; arrangement and coordination of relations and experience exchange between stakeholders in Arkhangelsk Region and respective state- and region-level bodies, partnerships and associations, foreign companies; active participation in the development and implementation of international projects coordinated by such organizations as UNO, UNESCO, UNWTO, EU, NCM and relevant offices in foreign countries.