“Russians are a people that desperately want to have friends,” wrote Gabriel Garcia Marquez after visiting the USSR. The FIFA World Cup in Russia seems to have proven the famous writer’s statement to be true.

The World Cup has, of course, also brought to light the pluses and minuses of the Russian tourism industry. In some way, it was a test not only for hoteliers, restaurateurs, and law enforcement officers, but also for ordinary residents of the eleven cities where the World Cup matches took place.

Certainly, the hosts did not excel at everything. However, I think they did get some things right: they were friendly and sincerely wished to help their foreign guests. Just as the Russian team, lacking in playing skills, compensated with huge enthusiasm and dedication and won the game against Spain, so the “players” of the Russian tourism industry had their many small victories, leaving their foreign guests with a positive attitude towards their not-always-perfect service, and demonstrating genuine hospitality.

One way or another, many of the stereotypes, created by politicians and the Western media about our country fell apart before the eyes of our foreign guests. Those who have now been to Russia won’t be afraid to come here again. The Russian proverb: “What is good for a Russian is poison for a German,” lost its relevance for the tourists who came from the banks of the Rhein. Except for the German team, of course …

All of us have realized that the East and the West have a lot in common, and that we should be meeting each other as often as possible to discover new things, to learn from each other, and just to be friends.

So, perhaps it’s time for a holiday in Russia…

Alexander Krestnikov,

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