Russian Olympic legends, both past and present, are experiencing the tourism delights Britain has to offer this week. Their visit is part of the national tourism agency’s marketing programme to tap into the country’s outbound industry worth £18 billion and entice a greater number of Russian visitors to the UK.
VisitBritain, the British Council, VISA and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) have combined forces to host ‘Road to London’, bringing five of the biggest names in Russian sport together, who between them have won an impressive 12 gold medals. The all-star delegation includes:
- Alexei Nemov- Four times Olympic gymnastics champion
- Dinara Safina- 2008 Olympic tennis medallist and 2012 contender
- Maria Kiseleva- Three times Olympic synchronised swimming champion
- Buvaisar Saitiev- Three times Olympic free-style wrestling champion and going for a fourth in 2012
- Svetlana Masterkova- 1996 double Olympic athletic champion in the 800m and 1500m
‘Road to London’ sees the visiting athletes not only take in the Olympic sites, but also a chance to enjoy museums, galleries and other experiences any Olympic tourist will enjoy this summer as part of Festival 2012. This will include them catching the critically acclaimed ‘Stomp’ in London’s West End, along with trips to the Victoria & Albert and Wimbledon Lawn and Tennis Museums.
Along with a school visit to conduct a master-class with children, the team will be in the unfamiliar territory of playing British sports which they are not considered to be at gold medal standard, such as attempting a round of golf and playing polo at Ascot.
VisitBritain research shows that Russian visitors have a great appreciation for British culture, history and heritage. More than half of Russians surveyed say they would like to go on a tour of Buckingham Palace and 83% saying they are likely to visit places associated with the Royal Family. We hope the visit of these influential Olympic legends will carry great resonance within Russia and act as a stimulus future travel to the UK.
Last year Britain received 208,000 visits from Russia, helping generate around £302 million for the British economy, a figure that is expected to grow over the next few years. A typical visit to Britain from Russia generates over twice as much spending as does the average inbound visit, spending £1,454 per trip. With over 134,000 high net worth individuals currently living in Russia, VisitBritain hopes to target this global tourism force and recover competitiveness from a market that spends highly on international travel.
Speaking at The Grosvenor House Apartments, Alexey Nemov, four-times Olympic gymnastics champion said: “I am very happy to take part in this programme, while travelling to London at such an important time for this city is a rare chance and a great honour. I am sure that these Olympic Games will prove once again how much sports can do for the peaceful future of our planet, and how it inspires and unites people.”
Patricia Yates, Director of Strategy and Communications at VisitBritain said: “These are elite Olympic champions who know what it takes to be at the top of their field and we are extremely fortunate to be able to showcase Britain to such high profile figures who have such an influence back home in Russia. Their visit this week will help us capture a larger slice of Russia’s £18billion outbound tourism market and allow us to entice a greater number of visits from this vital BRIC country over the coming years.”
Paul de Quincey, Director of the British Council in Russia, said:“This project gives us a fantastic opportunity to link our two countriesthrough the Olympic Games which will attract the attention of millions of people all over the world. During this visit, Russian sports legends will meet their British peers, walk around the Olympic Park, and learn about the Cultural Olympiad, in which the British Council is a key international partner.”
Steven Parker, VISA Group Country Manager for Russia added: “The Olympic Games create a unique atmosphere that brings together nations, transcending political and physical borders and capturing the hearts and imaginations of the world’s largest audience, irrespective of age, gender or social status. This is first and foremost thanks to the athletes themselves. We are a proud global sponsor of the Olympic Games and are excited to support the ‘Road to London’, a project that involves legendary athletes to promote Olympic values and sportsmanship in Russia.”