"Murmansk Region Is Good for Year-Round Recreation"
Interview with Aleksandr Yeliseyev, Chairman of Murmansk Region's Tourism Committee14 december 2022
Regarding the development of tourism, the Murmansk Region ranks among the most active Arctic regions. This is amply supported by investor activity, which shows that a tourism-related initiative in the Murmansk Region makes up nearly every ninth AZRF resident project. So what do tourists seek outside of the Arctic Circle, how does the region go about building its tourism brand, and how will it draw visitors in the upcoming year? Aleksandr Yeliseyev, Chairman of Murmansk Region's Tourism Committee, told our portal about this.
Alexander, could you please give us an idea of how the tourism industry in the Murmansk Region was doing in 2022? As per early data, how many visitors did the region see this year?
Our estimates say 534,800 tourists by the end of 2022; however, the actual numbers will be revealed a bit later. As evidenced by the high occupancy of the region's lodging and tourist facilities during the New Year holidays, there is a growing interest in the Arctic.
The number of people staying in lodging facilities is used to calculate the area's tourist flow (Rosstat data), with visitors who do not stay overnight or do not stay in hotels added separately. Accordingly, we tallied 391,400 tourists between January and September 2022.
How would one characterize visitors to the Murmansk Region if we were to talk about the tourists themselves? How much money can a traveler afford to spend on their trip? Are they mostly independent or group tourists?
By canvassing tourists and analyzing big data, we can get a better understanding of who is visiting us and why. This data has also helped us come up with a tourism development concept. We can state with confidence, in light of the data, that we attract financially secure travelers who are willing to stay on the Kola Peninsula for an extended period of time.
While a typical tourist's stay in 2019 was 2-3 days, the segment of visitors staying for 3-5 days is now steadily expanding. This is partly attributable to the fact that we focused efforts on building infrastructure, demonstrating once more the efficiency of government support. We are also developing new tourist products and involving tourists in both sporting and travel-related pursuits.
Big data has already shown that each tourist spends about RUB 5,000 per day, and that their stay lasts an average of 4-5 days. The Murmansk Region is no exception to the recent trend of independent travel.
What do you believe visitors to your region want to see here? What sort of experience are they seeking, and what do you have to offer? What efforts has the Committee made this year to further build the local tourism brand, fill the schedule with events, and develop new activities?
Murmansk Region is good for year-round recreation. Dispelling the myth that Murmansk Region is only a destination for winter travel was one of my first challenges when I started working at the Committee.
Snow-capped mountains, skiing, snowboarding, free riding, snowmobiles, snowkiting, winter hiking, snowshoeing, husky sledding, diving, and fishing are some of the wintertime attractions for tourists. Kitesurfing, quad biking, trekking, rafting, SUP boarding, and many other activities are available in the summer.
From vivid green to red, the summer and autumn seasons are a riot of hues. The area is still warm enough in the autumn to stroll through quaint towns, sample Arctic cuisine, go on a crabbing safari or a whale photo hunt at sea, or go fishing or "silent hunting," that is, picking mushrooms and berries. Then, of course, the Aurora Borealis season arrives; in the Murmansk Region, it starts in mid-August and lasts until the end of April.
As we all know, every fifth resident of the AZRF works on a tourism-related project. What has this investment regime brought to Murmansk Region this year? How do you develop business and investor interaction?
Indeed, there are a lot of projects being carried out here in the tourism and hospitality sector right now. We observe keen interest from tourists and businesses alike, and such initiatives are, of course, supported. The preferences for business include a variety of strategies, such as tax incentives, concessional lending, and other support programs. New recreational opportunities and attractions emerge each year in the Murmansk Region, setting it apart from other tourist destinations.
An illustration would be the RUB 300 mn we provided to local businesses in 2022 to support the development of new tourism projects. It is significant to note that our business owners have also put over RUB 500 mn of their own money into their ventures. This number, in my opinion, clearly shows how popular tourism is getting in our area.