Camping – Interview about a strong idea // Кемпинг – интервью про сильную идею


Read the article with parallel EN-RU translation // Читайте статью с параллельным переводом

March 2024 is ending and the warm season is approaching – time to think about the possibility of traveling around the country by car and other means of transport, and we would like to tell you about an idea that has great potential for development // Приближается теплое время года и время подумать о возможности путешествовать по стране на машине или другим видом транспорта, и мы бы хотели бы рассказать об идее, которая имеет большой потенциал для развития

Развитие мест для кемпинга было поддержано Президентом на форуме “Сильных идей для нового времени”, который проводился в конце июля 2022 года. // Developing of campsites was supported by the President at the forum “Strong ideas for new times” in July 2022

Успешный бизнесмен и основатель галереи искусства Николай Дмитриев презентовал свою идею развития кемпинга Президенту на финальном дне форума Сильные Идеи для Нового Времени 2022 // Successful businessman and founder of the art gallery Nikolay Dmitriev presented his idea of camping development to the President at the final day of the forum Strong Ideas for a New Time in 2022

RU: «Подойдя системно к развитию кемпинг-туризма, мы получим многомиллиардную отрасль, стимулирующую экономику и наукоёмкие отрасли. При этом повысим доверие предпринимателей и дадим возможность десяткам миллионов россиян получить доступный отдых и свободно путешествовать по России и наслаждаться её большим природным и культурно-историческим богатством», — сказал Николай Дмитриев при защите своего проект.
EN: “By systematically approaching the development of camping tourism, we will get a multibillion-dollar industry that stimulates the economy and knowledge-intensive industries. At the same time, we will increase the confidence of entrepreneurs and give tens of millions of Russians the opportunity to get affordable holidays and travel freely around Russia and enjoy its great natural, cultural and historical wealth,” Nikolai Dmitriev said while defending his project.

У нашего журнала получилось взять у Николая эксклюзивное интервью о специфике развития кемпингов в Европе и США, а также он предложил основные* идеи того, как можно развить эту индустрию на территории России. // And our magazine managed to have an exclusive interview with Nikolay about the specifics of the development of camping in Europe and the USA, and also Nikolay offered essential* ideas on how to develop this industry in Russia.

Потенциал идеи кемпинга колоссальный и АСИ (Агентство стратегических инициатив) заинтересовано в развитии этой стратегически важной темы. // The potential of the camping idea is enormous and ASI (Agency for Strategic Initiatives) is interested in developing this strategically important topic.

Смотрите интервью о туризме с русскими и английскими субтитрами // Watch the interview about tourism with Russian and English subtitles

00:06 – Идея кемпинга, как она появилась? 00:45 – Из выступления перед Президентом на форуме Сильных Идей-2022 02:18 – Не хватает комфортных стоянок, где можно остановиться 05:44 – Расходы на кемпинг в России + культура отдыхающих 10:03 – Кемпинг – это большой плюс для здоровья? 11:26 – Дача на колесах 12:33 – Статистические данные о кемпинге в РФ 14:38 – Почему во Франции самый лучший кемпинг? 15:54 – Все-таки, что такое кемпинг и почему это перспективно для экономики? 18:59 – План развития кемпинга в России

00:06 – The idea of camping, how did it come about? 00:45 – From a speech to the President at the forum of Strong Ideas-2022 02:18 – There are not enough comfortable parking places where you can stay 05:44 – Camping expenses in Russia + culture of vacationers 10:03 – Camping is a big plus for health? 11:26 – Cottage on wheels 12:33 – Statistics on camping in Russia 14:38 – Why is France the best campsite? 15:54 – After all, what is camping and why is it promising for the economy? 18:59 – Camping development plan in Russia

RU: В процессе разговора были обозначены основные проблемы кемпинговой индустрии в России: недостаточное развитие инфраструктуры для распространения внутреннего природно-ориентированного туризма, неосведомлённость значительного большинства населения о преимуществах и возможностях, которые предоставляет кемпинговый отдых и сопутствующие отрасли. Был затронут экономический аспект развития кемпинговой индустрии в виде возможности наращивания выпуска различных сопутствующих товаров: палаток, походных товаров, кухонных приборов, приспособлений для приготовления пищи и т. д.

EN: During the conversation, the main problems of the camping industry in Russia were identified: insufficient development of infrastructure for the spread of domestic nature-oriented tourism, ignorance of the vast majority of the population about the advantages and opportunities provided by camping and related industries. The economic aspect of the development of the camping industry was touched upon in the form of the possibility of increasing the production of various related products: tents, camping goods, kitchen appliances, cooking appliances, etc.

The full interview with Nikolay Dmitriev about camping in English 

(Полное интервью с Николаем Дмитриевым о кемпинге на английском языке – )

– The idea of ​​camping, how did you come up with this?

– Well, initially the idea was simple that, having a lot of experience travelling around Europe, I noticed how well this infrastructure is developed there. I never noticed it until I tried it myself. It turned out to be extremely convenient. This is real freedom of travel, because you go without planning anything. I found the place just immediately in the next 5, 10, 20 kilometers, I liked the place, some kind of campsite, or maybe I stayed in that very beautiful place, stopped, spent the night, lived there for a couple of days, walked, and then drove on. And, traveling around Russia all the time it seemed to me that I miss it (comfort, facilities) very much.

[From a speech to the President at the Strong Ideas Forum 2022] 

My name is Nikolay Dmitriev, Moscow. I am developing an international startup in the field of medicine, as well as developing a gallery of modern art in Moscow. We, together with my large family, traveled a lot by car, visited many European countries, as well as around Russia. 

And let me tell you about camping as an opportunity to give the dream of free and affordable travel to millions of Russians. Yes, nature-oriented tourism is actively developing in our country, a lot of infrastructure and accommodation facilities are being created. And popular destinations are being developed, such as Baikal, Altai, Krasnaya Polyana, but if we take a step to the side, then the number of tourism infrastructure and accommodation facilities drops drastically. And even that existing infrastructure is often inaccessible for an ordinary tourist. And here there is a great solution in camping, as a form of mass affordable tourism. Yes, of course, this type of tourism seems extremely doubtful to Russians today, because they have not yet got acquainted with this type of tourism and we have very few campsites now, but this type of tourism is very popular in Europe and in the world. There are now about 30,000 campsites in Europe, and in France alone – 8,000 of them and more than 40% of nights are spent in campsites, now in the high season in summer. And now, it seems to me, we have a wonderful window of opportunity to start actively developing camping tourism in Russia.

[Back to the interview]

There are not enough comfortable parking lots where you can stay, set up a tent or spend the night in your car, and at the same time get access to the most basic needs – a shower, a toilet (bathrooms), garbage area place and where to cook food. In Russia, unfortunately, there are no such places or it is at a rudimentary level right now.

And it seemed to me that it was important to develop it, and I only suggested ASI (Agency for Strategic Initiatives) how to do it.

And they told me: “Nikolay, the idea is cool. We have such a forum (they said in April) a cool forum, go there. Offer your idea. Speak about it.” And when I submitted the idea, I had already systematized it a little more. 

Being an economist, PhD in Economics, I have a major in industries (Industrial Economics), I realized that camping is not just an opportunity for affordable recreation and free travel. It’s actually a huge industry. In fact, camping is such a basic economic stimulus for many many other industries, because it tourist has to invest in so many related products for this activity.

We start with the fact that there is already a car, or somebody rents a car. For a car, you need at least a tent, you need rugs, sleeping bags, and then you need dishes, some kind of (gas) burners, you need chairs, tables, and so on.  And a bicycle rack, for example, a roof rack, a roof box (Thule), and all this stimulates the average small business to produce, it is such a handicraft for an average small business.

And I thought that this would be exactly the very incentive for the development of medium / small entrepreneurs and production in Russia.

Camping – for some people it seems to be something outdated, but in fact, if you look at modern camping products that exist on international markets, they all include an insane amount of new technologies, some modern innovative materials and so on. And all this stimulates the entire economy.

That is why the idea was called “Camping tourism as a window of opportunity for micro and medium-sized businesses”, and it stimulates everything. Not only stimulates in terms of…  In fact, even more stimulated…

There, starting from the fact that people start coming there, people start spending money in these campsites and related territories, some museums, buy farm products, amusement parks, rent bicycles, rent something else, for equestrian sports and other… lots to rent.

On the one hand, we get people traveling freely around the country, throughout the country, especially in Central Russia, where we have a lot of agglomerations that you can leave, 5-6 hours away and you can already rest somewhere, stop. On the other hand, you stimulate the industrial sector, production, small-scale production and small business, which will produce goods related to this.

And overall, it’s growing into a huge industry. As on the example of European countries, Australia, the USA, we see that this industry consists not only of renting accommodation… But there is a heap of heaps of related industries. That’s sort of the point of this story.

(Expenses for camping in Russia + culture)

Well, come on, by and large, we don’t have them. We have attempts to create campsites, but, unfortunately, there are many nuances. First, the lack of culture is a very important point. We have people who got used to it since Soviet times, they were called “mattress toppers”. On one side, there are tourists who put on a backpack, stuff it with a rug, a sleeping bag, a tent, food, they all carry it on their backs. They reach point A and then go to point B, on foot, stopping somewhere, in the mountains, in the forest, and so on. This is one kind of wild tourism, we do not stress on it. It does exist, as if it were sports tourism.

And there is tourism that I called “mattress toppers”, – those who come to the coast of some picturesque place, choose some kind of site for themselves, and create a camp there from two weeks to a month. Depending on the time of the vacation.

And they begin to live there in wild conditions. And what does it mean to live there in wild conditions? They have to organize everything themselves. Organize a toilet yourself, somehow organize a shower there, where to throw garbage and somehow get to this place. Some get there by car, in Soviet times they got on their own feet, set up camps, someone who had a car went for groceries, the rest of the people got on their own…

And it was also the same in the 90s. Since the 2000s, when a car became more affordable, everyone drives cars. 

And now, if you go along the banks of picturesque places, there will be two options. The first option is that it is fenced and occupied by someone, something has already been built there, some kind of camp site or something. Or if it is a wild place, there will be wild tourists. And that means everything there will be, pardon my French, well crap. Because what do tourists do? They don’t even want to take out the garbage, even… many people, I saw it on Lake Onega,

people seem to be standing on the shore, collecting all the garbage in bags, ok, they collected everything, and then, if they stand there for a very long time, they do not want to carry it somewhere far, to the garbage containers. They take out to some nearest road fork. Someone there spontaneously arranges a dump of these garbage bags, which are mostly from food, groceries – wild animals also smell it, they come to this smell, tear the bags, take it all away for long distances. As a result, the whole territory is polluted with the worst waste, it is plastic.

In Soviet times, again in the 90s, we did not have so many plastic containers. We had paper, glass and metal containers. Everyone knew that you burned the paper, you hand over the glass – this is money, who will throw away glass jars? If only you accidentally broke them… And everyone knew that metal containers should be thrown into the fire, burned, and then buried, there nature will do its own thing, in the ground, in a few years it will turn into rust … That is.

Now it’s all plastic. It needs to be processed centrally – to be transported somewhere. And where to take it if it is maybe 100+ km between two settlements in the area of Lake Onega? And you are standing in the middle. “Why to go 50 km? Oh, well, here we’ll drop it somewhere.” Or they leave the garbage somewhere by the road, “some type of bus stop, someone will pick it up”. Who will take it? Why do they have to pick up garbage there?

That’s why we have this problem, but in my opinion the problem is the lack of camping. If there were campsites, pay 500-1000 rubles for parking per night – for getting a warm shower, toilet, cooking place, you get a certain security.

For example, if the owner of the campsite is a responsible person, he can treat the surface from ticks and other things in the spring. So it will be a safe area for children. You don’t have to constantly think “to smear them against ticks”, but here everything is already processed, safe, and so on and so forth, and not so much money.

– And, most importantly, it is a big plus for health, isn’t it? And it improves public health.

– Yes, no doubt, because in the same campsite …

Camping, first of all, is a family vacation, and it is understandable that children need to be occupied with something and do something themselves. So what are people doing? That is, not people, but campsites themselves can make playgrounds, volleyball courts, badminton courts, people will come there, go in for sports, have fun, relax, make new acquaintances, make new friends, and, by the way, there is very well shown in the French film Camping (2006). That’s what it’s called. For some reason, people go to the same campsite every year, because they already have a bunch of friends. They are friends of their whole families there. Although they meet exactly once a year at this campsite.

– We will add a link to this film, interesting…

– Yes, I recommend watching it, it’s a very funny film, it shows very well how people of different incomes live together. There is such a story that there is a man in an expensive car, with a high income, he is a doctor or something else, I don’t remember, he didn’t know what camping was at all. His car breaks down and he ends up in this camping environment. I don’t remember the details, but he begins to understand that this is a whole different life, a whole different layer, a lot of people live there. It’s not like they’re all poor there, no, they’re not poor. 

It is very important to note here that for everyone camping is a synonym for a cheap vacation, in fact it is not. People, once accustomed to living in campsites, felt this freedom… But what is camping? This is actually a cottage on wheels. And you can change the summer cottage every day. Today you are standing in one campsite, tomorrow you are in another, and you arrive at the third: “God, it’s so beautiful, so cool. I’ll stay for three days,” and you stay at another point for three days … Or maybe 4 days you stay, and then again go further, and so you can travel to a lot of places, visit, see everything and always have the opportunity to spend the night somewhere, it’s affordable. And in the end, what do these tourists do? They start developing and investing in a yacht on wheels. The budget is not limited by anything, only the fantasies and

possibilities of your personal budget. We remember the movie “Meet the Fockers” (2004) where it was well shown. This family, Robert De Niro played there. He had such a bus, with accommodation, with all the affairs … and so on and so forth. This is absolutely crazy – in the States it is clearly visible, there are motorhomes for a million, for 2 million dollars. And all this stimulates the economy.

(Statistical data on camping in the Russian Federation)

Well, if we are talking about statitistic data, then it’s right to ask a question to the Internet, because in all languages ​​it’s different, different terminology for designating everything, but there is such a well-known resource, I’m talking about Western statistics, – there are a lot of materials you can search and see a lot … You can find out, for example, that in the 20th in Germany, in the year 2020, 200,000 new motorhomes and caravans were registered, in Germany alone.

– In one year? 

– In one year. 200 thousand. 

– In 2020, just in Covid?

– Just in time of Covid, because the demand for camping has grown very much, because of domestic tourism. You can go not too far, but you want to rest. Plus camping gives social distance. You live in nature, in the air. You have these parking lots – 50, 70, 100 square meters, the neighbor will be there in 3-5 meters in the fresh air, respectively, nothing will reach you. You don’t go to stuffy canteens and so on, the only place where your paths cross is in the sanitary zone, which is constantly processed – toilets, showers, there is constant processing. Therefore, this is enough, and campsites in this regard turned out to be safe and affordable for recreation. 

To understand the numbers: in Europe – more than 30,000 campsites for half a billion people;

in Russia for 150 million people – well, you know, just a few, let’s admit it, let’s say 150, even if 300, someone will say that there are 500-600 of them there, someone will put tourist sites and tourist camps there and name 1000 there, but these are illusions, of course. This year I purposefully drove through the campsites in Russia, in the north-west, I can say, honestly, I did not meet a single campsite where one could say the European (exemplary) standard.

France has the best classification because they are one of the leaders in camping history. Again, how did they become leaders in camping history, because after the war, when people needed a decent rest, a worthy rest somehow, and the people became impoverished, it was necessary to somehow give rest, they opened 4,000 municipal campsites so that people could at least somehow relax in nature, in the summer. And it turned into a crazy industry for them, more than 8 thousand campsites.

Let’s take Finland, sparsely populated Finland, they have only 200 campsites, more than in Russia. And all the campsites are of a very good standard. By the way, half of them are year-round. 

And one more, the main misconception that is often said, “Well, we have a different climate, but they have a better climate” … And so, in Finland, I have already named 200 campsites, in an even more severe climate. In Italy, campsites, I can say, open in April, close in October, the season starts a little earlier, it ends a little later, but in general, the peak of the camping season in all of Europe is summer. And the main consumers of camping services use them in the summer (1/3 of the whole year), but this does not negate the popularity of this type of recreation in Europe.

– What is camping anyway?

– Camping, it seems to people that you definitely need a caravan or a motorhome, that it makes no sense to go without it. 

In fact, motorhome = camping, but camping does not mean motorhome. Camping starts from a tent, from a place where you can put up a tent, come by car, park the car nearby – this is a very important moment. You park the car, this is your suitcase on wheels and a tent nearby. You also get there, I don’t know, chairs, armchairs, etc., your barbecue, the stove on which you cook. You arrange all this, and here is your actual cottage on wheels, you have pitched your camp. And here you live, you drink, here you sleep, and so on. Here, and then you go, stay there for 1-2 days, and go on. And so you move, pack your camp and disassemble, in fact, you become like a nomad on wheels, here.

And then, regarding the winter, in the USA, important statistics, 50% of tourists live in tents. That is, they come by car, live in tents, or they can come by motorcycle, or you can come by bike if the bike tour is with tents. This is 50%, 50%. In our country, of course, the figure will be 95+ per cent (without tents). But we need to start with offers of campsites.

– Of course, they don’t exist at all. 

– They do not exist at all, there is no development system. 

Why it was important for me, maybe, to reach the level of the President, it was necessary to show the importance, how important this industry is from the point of view of the economic multiplier.

Because, unfortunately, there is no such a pronounced stakeholder, that they are always looking for, some kind of big sponsor, so that they “Oh, of course, if we build these campsites there, then the economy will work directly, and that’s who will be the beneficiary”. No, there is no such obvious beneficiary, a major serious one. It all consists of a lot of small business entrepreneurs, and let me remind you that our President set a goal: 25 million self-employed entrepreneurs in 2030, and we are self-employed entrepreneurs who, on the one hand, will make it possible to produce all these related products.

And it must be recalled that in Russia, the only one, who somehow was closing the position of camping goods, was Decathlon (sportsware).

Decathlon is gone, a niche has opened up, in general, a lot of Western manufacturers have left the market. A manufacturer of bike racks and so on… This opens up a niche for our entrepreneurs to produce all this. Yes, no doubt, according to the laws of economics, the one who produces it in tens of thousands will always have a better price than the one who produces it in hundreds of pieces. But you have to start somewhere, you have to move. Either it is necessary in quality, or in price … It is impossible to get the same quality with a smaller circulation for the same money or cheaper than manufacturers do it in bulk.

Plans for the development of camping in Russia

Well, now we are working together with ASI. There are a lot of legislative changes, initiatives, because a lot of things need to be changed, redone. Plus, there is a lot going on in different associations, in the Russian Union of Tourism Industry. There is an association of caravaners, we communicate with them, discuss what to do, how to do it.

Plus there is a change at the government level. As you know, Rostourism was abolished and transferred to the Ministry of Economic Development. That is, you need to find someone in the government who will oversee this, who will deal with it. Probably, maybe it was right to give tourism functions to the Ministry of Economic Development, because this is the development of the economy. That’s what I am talking about – it’s the economic multiplier, because this is the very place where you can get a multi-billion dollar industry with very little investment. But here it is very important that the economy should be based not on demand, but on supply.

Until we make an offer in the form of a network of convenient campsites, give entrepreneurs the opportunity to do it easily, and until it starts working, we don’t give an opportunity to unwind, we will not see this industry.

And we will not see this industry if we do it piece by piece. If one region reports “And we have made three campsites”, “we already have three campsites”, this is about nothing. It’s like if in Moscow they made bike rentals and made three points where you can take a bike, no one would use it. But as soon as they made a huge huge network, where a person can travel for 15 minutes (ride), 5 minutes from point to point, it immediately worked.

– Yes, it’s interesting, we always lag behind the West…

– Well, we lag behind somewhere, somewhere we overtake very much…

– Yes, in some ways…

– In the digitalization of the economy, we overtake very much.

– Well, just about bicycles, if you take it, in Canada it was already developed already in 2015…

– Undoubtedly, it was popular there for a long time, but if you remember, it’s a good question on the topic of the economy, when Moscow introduced bicycles, everyone said, “Who needs these bicycles? No one needs these bicycles.”

And then they appeared.

– Thank you very much for the interview! Good luck to you and your project!

– Thank you!

The interview on camping is available with subtitles in Russian and English //  Интервью о кемпинге доступно с субтитрами на русском и английском языках –

RU:Таким образом, в процессе интервью была поднята очень важная проблема – проблема развития кемпинговой индустрии, которая позволит не только увеличить количество людей, путешествующих по территории России, но и увеличить географический охват этих путешествий, что, в дальнейшем, позволит поднять внутренний туризм на новый уровень и превратить его в одну из самых успешных и прибыльных отраслей экономики.

EN:Thus, during the interview, a very important problem was raised – the problem of the development of the camping industry, which will not only increase the number of people traveling in Russia, but also increase the geographical coverage of these trips, which, in the future, will raise domestic tourism to a new level and turn it into one of the most successful and profitable branches of the economy.

Интервьюер // Interviewer: Владислав Тищенко
Оператор // Cameraman: Артем Цигенов
Монтаж видео // Video editing: Михаил Грубый


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