HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The State Joint Stock Company on Foreign Tourism in USSR (GAO Intourist) of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign and Domestic Trade of the USSR.
After many long years of blockade and intervention, the young Soviet State began to establish contacts with the world community. The creation of Intourist, which laid the foundation for the entirely new branch of the economy, was predetermined by the moment in history — a period of rapid growth of foreign political and economic relations.
April 12, 1929 has entered into our history as the birthday of Intourist. It was Intourist which opened the first door in the «iron curtain» by allowing visitors to see with their own eyes what was happening in the USSR — a country which had undergone tremendous upheaval — and haw the historical experiment, in the epicenter of which it found itself was progressing.
The development of Intourist went in two directions —the foreign field,, related to international sales of tours around the USSR, and the domestic one, aimed at providing support for tourism inside the country — accommodations, excursions, transportation, (air, rail, boat, and automobile) sales of souvenirs and works of art, visits to theatres and concert halls.
Intourist had exclusive rights to operating foreign tourist markets and to open offices abroad. Though there were no foreign shareholders of Intourist, there were plans to attract credits from abroad, not excluding the possibility of foreign investments in this sphere.
On February 7th, 1933 the Presidium of the USSR Central Executive Committee adopted a special Decree on convergence of the State Joint-Stock Company on foreign tourism in the USSR and the Hotel All-Union Joint-Stock Company.
The new organization was called the All-Union Joint-Stock Company on Foreign Tourism in the USSR — Intourist.
In 1939 the Decree of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars put the All-Union Joint-Stock Company on Foreign Tourism in the USSR under the control of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR. During the 10 year existence of Intourist, 1 million (!) tourists visited the Soviet Union.
TRAGEDY AND REVIVAL
The All-Union Joint-Stock Company on Foreign Tourism in the USSR (VAO Intourist) of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR.
At the onset of the Great Patriotic War, Intourist had to minimize its activities. Having preserved its organizational structure and part of the staff, Intourist switched over to providing services for the diplomatic missions accredited in the USSR, the personnel of missions of the anti-Hitler coalition countries, and representatives of the neutral states.
Many Intourist employees left for the front; some of them didn’t come back.
It took Intourist a long time to recover from the damage suffered during the war. Enormous finansial resources were required in the process of restoration. Within just a few years Intourist began to receive small groups from abroad as well as individual tourists. During this period foreign trade ties were being restored, and VAO Intourist started to provide services for foreign delegations coming to the USSR.
The year 1947 was a unique test year. Intourist provided services for a considerable flow of foreigners, including those who came to a session of the Foreign Ministers’ Council in Moscow and to the International Fur Auction in Leningrad, as well as those invited by the Moscow City Council to the festivities on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Moscow.
In 1946 the People’s Commissariats were renamed into the Ministries. VAO Intourist became subordinate to the Ministry for Foreign Trade.
The Intourist Charter adopted in 1955 provided for the development of both domestic and foreign tourism as well as the reception of foreigners passing through the USSR in transit. Intourist received authorization to become a member of various national and international organisations, commissions, etc.
The development of international ties and the consolidation of the Eastern Bloc countries resulted in the emergence of other organisationsauthorised to arrange foreign tours for our compatriots, such as the Sputnik Youth Tourism Bureau, the Union of Societies of Friendship with Foreign Countries, and others. Nevertheless, Intourist continued to hold the leading position in both the size and variety of services.
In 1956 about half a million foreign citizens from 84 countries — 5 times more than during the pre-war decade — visited the Soviet Union. And more than one million Soviet people went abroad in the same year.
In 1964 the number of foreign tourists visiting the USSR exceeded 1 million people, and more than 900 thousand Soviet citizens travelled abroad. Intourist did its best to make it possible for ordinary citizens of our country to travel abroad and to increase their travel options. The activities of Intourist promoted the establishment of warmer human relations among nations.
Intourist became a major partner of more than 700 tourist companies operating in one hundred countries around the world. About 100 VAO Intourist offices and agencies were operating on the territory of the USSR.During the period from 1966 to 1972, forty tourists facilities including hotels, motels and campsites were constructed in 30 of the country’s cities.
In 1969 the Directorate was transformed into the Main Directorate of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. VAO Intourist entered this body having the rights of a Commercial Directorate. Sergey Nikitin was the head of the Main Directorate on foreign tourism, Victor Boychenko was his deputy and the chief of the Commercial Directorate.
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
During the period from 1971 to 1975 about 15 million foreign tourists were received and 11 million of our compatriots went abroad. In the early 1970s our tourists got an opportunity to visit India and Ceylon.
Intourist was involved in organisating and servicing US President Richard Nixon’s visit to Moscow, Simferopol and Minsk. June 27 — July 3, 1974.
In 1975 during the joint Soyuz — Apollo flight Intourist was also responsible for the reception of foreign guests. The XXII Summer Olympic Games turned out to be one more major achievement for Intourist. To welcome more than 300 thousand visitors coming to the Games, it was necessary to considerably increase the number of hotels in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk and Tallinn. In the late 1970s numerous hotels, cafes, and restaurants were built: the Dagomys complex in Sochi, the Cosmos in Moscow, the Pribaltiyskaya in Leningrad, etc.
In 1980 on Intourist’s initiative, business contacts with VISA International were established. By the beginning of the Olympic Games several special terminals were set up in a number of Moscow’s largest hotels, making it possible to accept VISA card payments.
ON THE TOP
The USSR State Committee for Foreign Tourism in Russia (GOSKOMINTOURIST). In 1983 by a Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR the Main Directorate on foreign tourism of the Council of Ministers of the USSR was transformed into the State Committee of the USSR on foreign tourism. PyotrAbrasimov, Doctor of History, became it first Chairman.
LEADER IN THE FIELD OF TOURISM
The International Foreign Economic and Investment Tourist Company (VAO Intourist). The development of a market economy in Russia could not help but have an effect on Intourist’s activities. Since the year 1991 the company has pursued a new commercial policy, a policy which is required for making things happen in today’s highly competitive environment. Intouristbecame the biggest holding company which, as a uniform entity, is able to effectively and quickly react to the economic and political problems of contemporary Russia.
The very wide experience gained by Intourist within the 70-years period, the high quality of service, and the professional personnel standards, as well as the traditional trust of both the foreign partners and general clients allow Intourist to maintain secure positions in business.
In 1999 Intourist celebrated its 70th anniversary.
For Intourist the year of its anniversary became the starting point of the new stage of its development which is remarkable for the rapid development of all branches of business, the strengthening of the company’s positions on the tourism market, and the positioning as the biggest Russian international level tour operator abroad.
THE TIMES OF CHANGES FOR VAO “INTOURIST”
During this period of time the company showed stable growth and obtained status of a full service tour operator, promoting not only the Incoming, Outgoing and Domestic tourist, but also transport , VIP and congresses and exhibitions services, corporate tourism.
VAO “Intourist” maintained its leadership on the market throughout the years (in 2004 there was a 20% increase in number of tourists.
The Company opened 15 own shops in Moscow, 25 franchise agencies in Moscow region and 46 offices in Russia. In recognition of all its’ achievements and results Intourist received numerous rewards and prizes, such as «Super brand of the Russian market 2004», «Best brand in tourism 2003 », national prize «Tourism Olimpus», diplomas on International professional fairs and exhibitions.VAO “Intourist” gained the Moscow Tourism Committee award “Guiding star” for “Professionalism, stability and high level of services ” and the highest Russian award for achievements it tourism “The diamond star” in nomination “The best Incoming touroperator of the year”.
The vice-president of VAO “Intourist” Mr. Kakora N. was granted an order for the “Merits in Russian tourism development.”
In 2006 VAO “Intourist” purchased the controlling stake of “Riviera” and “Skyway” operators (who specialized in popular and mass Outgoing destinations, such as Tunisia, Turkey, Thailand etc.) and avia-broker “Megapolus-Aviacharter” (51%) This purchases had a positive influence on business development. “Intourist” also obtained the assets of «Intourist Hotel Group» owning Hotels in Moscow (e.g. Cosmos) Nizhniy Novgorod, Petrozavodsk and Karlovy Vary.
In 2006 «Intourist» started the creation of the vertically integrated holding with one managing company and four divisions - «Touroperating», «Retail», «Hotels» è «Transport».
“INTOURIST LLC” – THE NEW ERA
In 2011 VAO Intourist established the Joint Venture with Thomas Cook Group plc with the share of 49.9 % and 50.1% respectively. The Incoming business within the JV was fully transferred to the Intourist LLC that will continue to expand the touroperating services and host tourists on the traditionally high level.