Arctic Tourism Week: industry developments and success stories
The most important forum events in Norilsk12 april 2023
The second week of April in Norilsk was dedicated to Arctic tourism. From 9 to 13 April, tour operators, government officials and protected area managers, as well as experts from across the country, came to one of the largest cities in the Arctic region to discuss one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Russia. In the Krasnoyarsk Arctic, particularly in Norilsk, the annual tourist flow has increased from 3,000 to 12,000 people, said the head of the city Dmitry Karasev during his speech. Similar dynamics have been recorded in other regions of the AZRF. In the past few years, interest in domestic tourism in the country has been growing, and the previously inaccessible and unfamiliar expanses of the Arctic Circle look all the more appealing to most travellers.
Along with demand comes increasing supply. The total investment in the Norilsk tourism industry amounted to about RUB 25 mn, said the head of the city, and continues to grow. This includes trips to the Putorana plateau, city tours, rafting, mountaineering, helicopter flights and much more. A recent discovery has been industrial tourism—a mining farm has opened its doors to visitors, and more recently the famous Angedrit mine has become publicly accessible. Now the city's tourism industry is facing a new challenge: the formation of a unique brand of 'northern cuisine' to be served in Norilsk restaurants. Ethnic tourism is also developing in the region. In just two years, the Suninda ethno village was built, opening its doors to its first guests today. There, guests can visit real Evenki dwellings, go on a reindeer-herding trip, try their hand at indigenous tundra crafts, and generally learn about life in the North. A similar project will soon be implemented in Khatanga.
Stimulation of the tourism industry yields high results for the comprehensive development of the AZRF economy. According to Dmitry Gromov, head of the Agency for Development and Territorial Marketing of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), natives earn RUB 40 a year from every rouble invested in the industry. This is facilitated by the widespread development of event and ethnographic tourism, of which the Ysyakh holiday is the most successful example. Every year, the festival attracts thousands of visitors and has become a trademark of the region.
Arctic Tourism Week was a platform where all kinds of ideas were voiced, including some rather eccentric ones. The forum participants from Baikal, for example, presented their project for an ice hotel. It is based on inflatable modules similar to those used by Arctic rescuers, and the household unit with a septic tank is housed in a girder. Tourists can remain outdoors for long periods of time, even in the bitterest of cold, in safety and comfort. The use of mobile structures minimises the impact on the environment and allows such a hotel to be located in the most beautiful parts of the region.
The forum discussed a number of topics related to the organisation and development of tourist routes, the existing formats of offerings for visitors to the regions, the prospects and opportunities for the regions of the AZRF and the current challenges facing the Arctic tourism industry. Infrastructure and vast distances were traditionally cited as the latter. The existing market for tours to the far north (the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, the Laptev Sea coast, islands in the Kara and Barents Seas, etc.) is rather limited, primarily due to the high cost of organising the trip. To counteract the high cost, it has been suggested that light-engine aviation should be developed in the polar regions, something that has been repeatedly discussed in recent years at various levels, from regional forums to meetings of the State Council. There was also a proposal to restore a number of old weather stations in nature reserves, turning them into visitor centres for tourists. This will ensure the necessary level of comfort and safety for visitors to remote protected areas, as well as significantly increase their flow. The Norilsk Development Agency and Roshydromet signed an agreement during the forum.
A total of 12 business sessions were held as part of the Arctic Tourism Week, involving over 300 experts from 30 organisations, including the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Natural Resources, Norilsk authorities, regional tourism development agencies, municipal authorities, IT specialists, urban planners, tour guides and business people. In addition to discussing successful cases, a number of agreements were reached and signed at the event, in particular on the construction of a tourist visitor centre in Norilsk. All the region's tourism products will be available for purchase, as well as information on them. There will also be a café, an area for exhibitions and events, and a conference room for visitors. Forum guests visited the exhibition In the Centre of Taimyr, dedicated to the activities of the tourism industry in the North of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Sixteen local tour and travel agencies, restaurateurs and souvenir makers showcased their products and achievements.
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