Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

'The direction of development is right'

Arctic regions focus on tourism development

25 september 2022

25.09.2022 // The development of tourism, including business and international tourism, is part of the state strategy for the development of the Arctic zone. The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic estimates that only about one per cent of all tourists in Russia visit the Arctic today. By 2035, the ministry expects to triple this figure.

'Tourism can become an industry comparable in importance to industry and mining for regions of the Russian North, being one of the most multiplicative industries that stimulates the development of related areas and the region's economy,' believes Yana Testina, associate professor of the Department of Country Studies and International Tourism at St. Petersburg State University.

The Arctic regions have already achieved some impressive first results. Last year, for example, 486,000 guests visited the Murmansk Region, a record figure for the Kola Peninsula. Today everyone knows that holidays by the White Sea include Teriberka, Lake Kanentyavr, Kamchatka crab safaris, Arctic diving and, of course, hunting for northern lights.

To ensure the same momentum, the remaining Arctic regions are joining forces and developing joint strategies to promote tourism. Thus, the four Arctic regions—the Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Areas, the Arkhangelsk Region and the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)—have decided to work together to attract tourists. 

'All have similar challenges and tasks for the development of the tourism industry in the regions, and most importantly, there is a desire to work together on its development,' explains Olga Strepetilova, Deputy Head of the Department of Finance and Economics, Head of the Economic Development Department of NAA.

Representatives from the four regions have formed an action plan for the next four to six months. One of the first tasks is to create recognisable brands for each northern territory. 'There is no clear positioning of the Arctic for the potential tourist. Most see it as tundra, reindeer, wild herbs, northern lights and many things identical. As a result, for the average tourist, there is no difference between the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area or the Nenets Autonomous Area, we are often confused,' she comments.

Authorities in the Arctic regions have no doubt that they will succeed in creating a first-class hospitality infrastructure. After all, every fifth resident project in the world's largest special economic zone, the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation, is implemented in the tourism sector. Today, 102 out of 500 residents are developing tourism in the Arctic Circle.

Tellingly, at the end of Arctic Investor Day, an agreement was signed to register the five-hundredth AZRF resident—and it, too, intends to work in tourism by building a new complex on the White Sea coast in Kandalaksha that will host up to 3,000 visitors a year.

Big business is also ready to invest in recreation in the Arctic. For example, Norilsk Nickel is going to develop two tourism projects at once—Valla Tunturi on the Kola Peninsula and Zatundru on the Taimyr. Both facilities will be built with environmentally friendly materials and run on 'clean' energy sources.

Cooperation between business and government has been the key to success. 'We support our entrepreneurs, thanks to this, we now have weekend tours, such as cruises on the Anadyr Estuary and sea trips to Egvekinot, and we are also expanding domestic flight programmes. The question of infrastructure development remains difficult; here we are helping businesses to build. This year, a hotel will appear in the Ugolnye Kopi settlement, the construction of ethnoparks near Anadyr and in Egvekinot, as well as a glamping site at Lorinsky hot springs,' said Roman Kopin, governor of the Chukotka Autonomous Area.

Seeing the success of the projects already implemented, even more ambitious plans are being made in the Arctic regions. In Chukotka, for example, they intend to build a 7,600-metre-long air bridge to connect the regional capital and the Ugolnye Kopi settlement. The funicular will enable year-round transportation of passengers who in the off-season had to travel to Anadyr by helicopter or hovercraft. It requires a lot of money—RUB 3.8 bn—but if the project comes to fruition, it will undoubtedly become a tourist attraction.

A key driver for the development of Arctic tourism is air accessibility. Steps are now being taken on all fronts to ensure this. For example, the United Far Eastern Airline, created by order of the President of Russia on the basis of the Aurora Airlines, is already forming a network that will include more than 500 scheduled intra-regional and inter-regional routes. By 2026, the carrier's fleet should be replenished with 45 new Russian aircraft, including import-substituted Sukhoi Superjet New, IL-114, L-410 and light-engine LMS Baikal. Airports are being renovated: in Chukotka, for example, six airports will be renovated in the coming years.

The development of the North Sea Route could also be one of the main ways of making tourism more accessible in the Arctic. Vadim Mamontov, CEO and founder of RussiaDiscovery and head of the Adventure Tourism Commission of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, highlighted several of the most promising destinations for cruise tourism, including Chukotka, Yakutia, the Putorana Plateau, Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and the Arctic Circle.

In addition, to make the Arctic a worthy destination, Russia was the first country in the world to develop Arctic tourism standards. At the beginning of the year, Rostourism and Rosstandart prepared a series of national GOSTs 'Arctic Tourism,' which will improve travel safety and the quality of tourism services in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.

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