On August 24, a member of the KUBS team Serghei Golunov took part in the Tourism and Mobility session at the 33rd International Geographical Congress in Beijing with a presentation entitled “Empowering Mobility: Russian Travellers` Forums Against Immigration and Customs Barriers”.
The presentation was focused on the role of Russian online travel communities in empowering those travellers that deal with immigration, border controls, and customs barriers. Geographically, the presentation covered most of the regions of the world significant for Russian tourists, except Latin America and North Africa. Vinsky Forum, the largest and best-managed Russian online travel community, was taken as a case study. The presenter argued that online travel communities such as the Vinsky Forum empower Russian travellers in a number of ways, informing tourists about official regulations, identifying logistically viable routes, teaching on how to succeed in communication with visa officers, and bypassing restrictions by employing small tricks. In some cases, the Forums activists proved to be increasingly capable of undertaking joint action, submitting complaints against consular officers via influential participants and informing the IATA’s Timatic database managers about the latest relaxation of destination countries’ immigration rules for Russian tourists.