Tour Operators’ Insight into the Russian Nature-Based Experience Market

Journal article 2

Vespestad, May Kristin. 2010. “Tour Operators’ Insight into the Russian Nature-Based Experience Market.” European Journal of Tourism Research 3 (1): 38-53.


There exists a constrained view of the impact of tour operators on potential new tourist markets. The idea of nature- based tourism is also often viewed from conflicting angles especially when tourists from different culture taken into consideration. This paper takes an empirical approach to examine the perception of nature-based tourism experiences among Russian tour operators and to determine their potential influence on new markets. The paper finds that nature-based tourism experiences are defined differently depending on one’s country of origin. The paper also finds that tour operators play a significant role in marketing tourist destinations and as such should be acknowledged by industry stakeholders.

Tour Operators’ Insight into the Russian Nature-Based Experience Market

Tourism is an important aspect in resource economics. With growing competition between tourist destinations, it is becoming increasingly necessary to know and understand the consumers. It is argued that currently it is not only the experience providers, destination marketers, media or tourist organizations that play part that is essential, but also tour operators. Vespestad and Kristin (2010) are of the opinion that despite the growing significance of intermediaries in launching experience to new markets, their significance has not been given much attention within the realm f tourism literature. The authors undertake a study to determine the significance of intermediaries in tourism promotion by investigating the role of tour operators in promoting nature based experiences in the Russian market. The article seeks to study three aspects; the perspective of the Russian tourism market as regards to nature based experiences, to disclose the tour operators’ interpretation of nature base [1]tourism and their influence in promoting new markets and comparison of nature based tourism concept from western and eastern tourists.

The researchers undertake an empirical study of the Russian market tourist operators. Tour operators were preferred to potential tourist for respondents due to a variety of information that could be collected as well as their deeper understanding of the market. A sampled list of tour operators was obtained Innovation Norway, a state agency that promotes nationwide industrial developments and markets. The sampled operators were invited to participate in the survey and 6 successful interviews were conducted. The interviews were conducted at the convenience of the operators, in their offices, and lasted between 30 to 60 minutes. The research was conducted in English although caution was taken to include a Russian-speaking interview assistant to intervene just in case language barrier proved an obstacle (Craig 2001). The study benefited from the possibility of use of two languages as responded who exhibited difficulties in responding in the second language were accorded the chance to respond in their comfortable native language.

Key findings from the interviews revealed a number of aspects

  • Relation to nature

A generalized view of Russians could not be agreed upon a most of the sampled participants emanated from urban settings. It was found; however that Russians like nature but do not understand its relation to ecology.

2) What Russian tourists emphasize as important for nature-based tourism products

Most Russians do not value nature based tourism, they prefer extraordinary and uncommon feature of nature to define as tourism. Russians perceive nature as form of relaxation rather than as a form of tourism.

3) The concept of nature-based tourism experiences

Russians perceive nature based tourism experiences differently, their diverse perception are inclined towards feelings as well as physical issues (Stilling Blichfeldt 2007). Fresh and pure nature were termed as the basic ingredients in nature based tourism

4) Promotion of nature-based experiences

There is a general feeling that untouched landscape and nature should take centre stage in promotion of nature-based experiences. Operators are of the view that this information should be promoted to target groups through specialized events.

From the data collected, the authors reached a few conclusions. First and foremost, I was best understood that to most Russians, nature based experienced referred to visitation of natural areas, seeing beautiful landscapes and special sceneries. It is worth noting that the definition and understanding of nature-based tourism experiences varies from country to another and this discrepancy can be attributed to cultural differences, tourist topology and personal preferences (Steenkamp 2001). The study also reveals that tour operators are a significant ingredient in influencing new markets and viability of nature-based tourism cannot be disputed. This group of people play a significant role as an interface between the producers and consumers and posses the power to steer markets towards some predetermined programs. It is thus important that businesses ought to acknowledge the role of intermediaries and their potential to influence markets. The study also finds a sharp contrast between the Russian tourism market and the western European market. While the west is mostly interested in experiences, the tour operators’ responses in this study suggested that the market fancied a traditional products approach.

The authors of this article focus on a area of research that may have previously been considered insignificant as evident by scanty documented literature in the subject matter. However, this aspect of tourism is no longer insignificant as is elaborated by the article. The tour operators command a significant influence on the perspectives of visiting tourists and as such are marketers of existing and new products. The recommendations to acknowledge and accord more significance to tour operators should not be overlooked. The author’s coverage of such a scantily researched area is elaborate as is evident by the chronology of the presentation of ideas. The methodology is well stated and elaborated, and presentation doe in good and understandable language. The article could, however benefit from a wider sampling; the opinions of only 6 tour operators are used to draw conclusions for the whole of the Russian tourism market. This is too small a sample and the margin of error could be too large.



Craig, C. S., & Douglas, S. P. “Conducting international marketing research in the twenty-first century.” International Marketing Review, 2001: 80-90.

Steenkamp, J.-B., E. M. “The role of national culture in international marketing research.” International Marketing Review, 2001: 30-44.

Stilling Blichfeldt, B. “A nice vacation: variations in experience aspirations and travel careers.” Journal of Vacation Marketing, 2007: 149-164.

Vespestad, May Kristin. 2010. “Tour Operators’ Insight into the Russian Nature-Based Experience Market.” European Journal of Tourism Research 3 (1): 38-53.



[1] I wish to acknowledge my Instructors for his continued guidance through the research; secondly, I wish to acknowledge my friends Gary and Zach for their unending support in times of research.