KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 (NNN-Bernama) -- Russian Ambassador to Malaysia, Valery N. Yermolov, is upbeat on more Malaysians visiting Russia during and after next year's FIFA World Cup.
He said that the World Cup, one of the biggest sporting events in the world, which would be organised in Russia's 11 states, would promote different places as well as boost the tourism sector in the country.
"Malaysians would normally associate Russia with only Moscow and St Petersburg. But this world event will showcase or promote Russia, as the 'whole world' in a country," he told Bernama, here recently after a briefing session with Malaysian tour operators and travel agents.
The briefing was held in conjunction with 50 years of diplomatic relations between Russia and Malaysia.
Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup from June 14 until July 15, taking place at different venues across Russia namely Moscow, Rostiv-on-Don, Volgograd, St Petersburg, Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Kazan, Samara, Kaliningrad and Ekaterinburg.
In 2016, only 3,000 Malaysian tourists visited Russia while 40,000 Russians came to Malaysia.
Yermolov added that Russia had a lot to offer including the now-in-demand Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, that is famously spotted in Iceland or Alaska.
"We have this kind of attraction, but most tourists, especially Malaysians, are not aware of this, including local operators who are here today. So, we hope through this briefing, we could actively promote this kind of experience, which is said will fade in the future," he explained.
Scientists predicted that the lights, which occurred due to collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere, will fade and appear less frequently over the next ten years.
The briefing on Russian tourism potential was jointly organised by the Russian Embassy, Russian Centre for Science and Culture, and Visit Russia Asia. At the event, tour operators and travel agents were briefed by Visit Russia and Russian Airlines, Aeroflot, on the attractive places for travellers and possible travel routes from Malaysia to Russia.
Visit Russia Director, Ta Bich Ha, said that as the official representative of the Federal Agency for Tourism of Russia in Southeast Asia, Visit Russia covers seven countries including Malaysia.
Ta said that Visit Russia, through a special committee, is currently working on a special programme to cater to football fans during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Established in April 2016 with its head office in Hanoi, Vietnam, Visit Russia is the centre for official information on all regions in Russia, and is Halal Friendly certified, she said.
She explained that Visit Russia could cater for halal friendly tours.