Marian Muro, Director of the Barcelona Tourism Consortium, and Mateo Asensio, Head of Promotional Actions of Barcelona, have paid an official visit to St Petersburg University.

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Welcoming the guests, Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs, noted that St Petersburg University has a special status, being the oldest university in Russia.

Our University is listed in almost all international educational academic rankings. At present, the University has more than 25,000 students, of which about 5,000 are foreigners. We also have more than 500 partners around the world, including top foreign universities, research foundations, and for-profit and non-profit organisations.

Sergey Andryushin, Deputy Rector for International Affairs

It was noted at the meeting that St Petersburg University cooperates with 15 universities in Spain, two of which are located in Barcelona: the University of Barcelona and Ramon Llull University. Every year before the pandemic, about 30 exchange students used to be sent to Spanish universities as part of academic mobility programmes. About 10 to 15 students from Spain had come to St Petersburg University. These were mainly students in the following fields of study: ‘Management’; ‘Tourism’; ‘International Relations’; ‘Sociology’; ‘Psychology’; ‘Economics’; and ‘Philology’. At present, such internships are being held online.

The meeting attendees discussed issues that can become a platform for developing cooperation between St Petersburg University and the Barcelona Tourism Consortium. Among them were: scholarship support for University students during internships and summer practical training; joint lectures and workshops; joint applied research; and creative exhibitions.

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For reference: in 2019, the first representative office of St Petersburg University in Europe appeared in the Russian House in Barcelona. At the same time, it was proposed to conclude a tripartite agreement between representatives of St Petersburg University, the Russian House, and the Tourism Consortium.

Also, since 2007, the University has been participating in the Santander Universities programme of Santander Bank, one of the largest banks in Europe. The programme aims to support longterm academic and research cooperation between universities in Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Morocco, Mexico, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Venezuela, the USA, Russia, and China. As part of this project, student exchanges between St Petersburg University and Spanish partner universities are financed every year.

Representatives of St Petersburg University expressed interest in developing exchange and cooperation in management and tourism. Nataliia Zegern-Korn, Head of the Department of Country Studies and International Tourism at St Petersburg University, noted that there is a master's programme in Tourism Destinations Management at the University.

Our Russian regions have a major issue in developing marketing strategies and branding for local tourism. The experience of the management of the Barcelona Tourism Consortium would therefore be very useful to us.

Nataliia Zegern-Korn, Head of the Department of Country Studies and International Tourism at St Petersburg University

Remarkably, the first official visit of the Barcelona Tourism Consortium abroad after the pandemic took place in Russia. Marian Muro underlined that this shows the full significance of the connection between the twin cities of St Petersburg and Barcelona.

The negotiations resulted in a cooperation agreement signed between St Petersburg University, the Russian House in Barcelona, and the Barcelona Tourist Consortium. Among the named promising areas for joint work are: the implementation of joint research, academic and cultural projects; the organisation of academic and scientific events; the invitation of foreign teachers and experts in tourism to deliver lectures, workshops and practical classes for St Petersburg

University students; and the establishment of scholarship programmes for University students. In the opinion of the parties, such cooperation will contribute to the development of Spain–Russia relations and further rapprochement of the two countries.

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