MOSCOW, October 25 (Itar-Tass) —— The Stavropol spa center will become a jewel of the North Caucasian tourism cluster, Stavropol Governor Valery Gayevsky told Itar-Tass.
“The tourism and recreation center in Caucasian Mineralnye Vody is an economic priority of our territory and the entire North Caucasian Federal District,” he said.
The federal authorities have proposed to put all projects within the Caucasian Mineralnye Vody special economic zone under control of the North Caucasian Resorts Company, a source at the local administration told Itar-Tass.
“Our spa projects in the Caucasian Mineralnye Vody special economic zone will have a second life together with Mamison, Arkhyz and other resorts,” he said.
The special economic zone in the Stavropol territory is one of the seven tourism and recreation zones formed in Russia. It was established with a government resolution in 2007 on the territories of several municipalities. The best results were achieved in the Grand Spa Yutsa project – a recreation and spa center on the area of 843 hectares for 4,500 clients. The center is located on Mount Yutsa, ten kilometers away from Pyatigorsk and 35 kilometers away from the Mineralnye Vody International Airport. It is planned to build 14 hotels with more than 2,800 rooms with three to five star service. The spa will be the center of the new resort. It is also planned to build artificial water ponds of six hectares, two golf fields, an indoor water park, a horse riding center and a delta and paragliding center.
“A lot has been done to prepare the project and some funds have been assigned for the infrastructure, but we do not have a strategic investor. The world economic crisis has forced prospective investors to change their plans. The works slowed down, but this does not mean they will be totally halted,” first deputy head of the local administration Mikhail Bondarenko said.
The construction of five alpine skiing resorts in the North Caucasus – Matlas in Dagestan, Mamison in North Ossetia, Arkhyz in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Lagonaki in the Krasnodar territory and Adygeya and Elbrus in Kabardino-Balkaria – is a priority project of the federal authorities. There will be also modern spa and beach clusters.
The alpine skiing tracks will be 898 kilometers long. There will be 179 ropeways and hotels for 89,000 people. The investments may reach one trillion rubles within ten years, and about 300,000 jobs will be created.
The North Caucasian Resorts Company will reconstruct the tourist and mountain climbing routes that existed in the former Soviet Union. It could be either quiet walks or horse riding to admire the nature and to learn more about people, the history and traditions of the region. Tourists will be offered rafting, climbing or cave tours.
The Arkhyz resort in Karachayevo-Cherkessia will start working already this year, according to Presidential Representative to the North Caucasian Federal District Alexander Khloponin.
“We will open the Arkhyz resort this year. True, only its first line will open, but skiing tracks will be available already,” he said.
The involvement of local residents in the project is an important task, Khloponin said. “Tourists visiting the mountains must have a chance to visit a small restaurant in a local village and eat a home-made dinner,” he said. Local residents must be trained to do that professionally, he said.
Many young people from the Caucasus will be trained as guides, ski instructors, hotel managers and so on, he said. The project will also open up broad vistas for small and medium business.
Earlier this month the federal government, the Krasnodar territorial administration and the authorities of the Apsheron district of the Krasnodar territory approved the drafting of a development plan for the Lagonaki resort.
The agreement on forming a tourist and recreation zone in Lagonaki was signed in February 2011 in fulfillment of the Federal Government Resolution “On the Formation of the Tourist Cluster in the North Caucasian Federal District, the Krasnodar Territory and the Republic of Adygeya.”
Lagonaki will be a part of the tourist cluster in the North Caucasus with the yearly tourist capacity of about 28,000. Apartments, cottages and hotels will provide space for 16,000 people. The alpine skiing tracks will be about 164 kilometers long.
“The Lagonaki resort in the Apsheron district is a new step in the development of the Krasnodar district, which will give an access to unique nature and draw hundreds of thousands of tourists, including those foreign,” Kuban First Vice-Governor Jambulat Khatuov told Itar-Tass.
Similar agreements on the drafting of development plans of tourist and recreation zones were signed with all the other future participants in the North Caucasian tourist cluster.
The North Caucasus has unique nature. It is the tallest mountain ridge in Russia with five peaks exceeding 5,000 meters above the sea level. The most famous of them is the Elbrus. There are plenty of unique plants, animals and birds in Caucasian highlands and valleys.
The development of modern, well planned and environmentally friendly resorts will help preserve unique nature of the Caucasus, in the opinion of authoritative Russian environmentalists.
“The level of environmental awareness of residents of the North Caucasus is an important guarantee of nature conservancy,” head of the North Ossetian environmental organization, Green Alania, Kazbek Dzliyev said. “Our republic alone has more than 20 environmental organizations. They are rather active and have an influence on state bodies providing environmental monitoring and control,” he said.
Meanwhile, the North Caucasian Resorts Corporation is drafting a tourist security concept.
“Security in the North Caucasus is a key criteria of the success of this project. We will draft a comprehensive concept of tourist security this year and will take security measures in compliance with it,” General Director of the North Caucasian Resorts Company Alexei Nevsky said.
Experienced companies will be involved in the drafting of this concept, while the government will give the concept a final approval, he said.
“Tourists must be sure that they will be protected from terror acts and other crimes all through the period of their stay in the North Caucasus. This is the condition of a large tourist flow to the region,” he said.
“The new resorts will primarily orient at residents of the North Caucasian Federal District. We expect that residents of the North Caucasian Federal District will make up 50% of the tourists, about 20% of tourists will come from Central Russia, Siberia and the Far East, about 20% from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan and 10% from abroad,” he said.
Israeli specialists are developing the security concept for the North Caucasian resorts.
Israel was successful in the provision of security, Bilalov said. “What they are doing for the state of Israel really works. There was only one terror act in Jerusalem over the past seven years, while 42 terror acts happened within one year there before,” he noted.
“There is a whole set of measures, including security agents and technical means, such as drones and video cameras. It works [in Israel], so why can’t it work here. We will bear some of the expenditures, the state will bear some and law enforcers will make their contribution,” he said.
“Obviously, no one will come here if there is no security although the opinion that the crime rate is high in the Caucasus is mostly a stereotype,” he said. “For instance, the number of grave crimes committed in Dagestan is smaller than in some other regions in Russia. The media takes any killing in the Caucasus as news while a killing in some other region is regarded as nothing special,” he said.
Another important focus of the tourism cluster is infrastructure. France will contribute one billion euros to the joint venture developing North Caucasian resorts of Russia, according to Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina.
“That is a very weighty contribution. Hopefully, the joint venture will be a locomotive of the project,” she said. Nabiullina expects the joint venture to be formed before the end of this year.
The cluster will spur on the development of airports and other means of transport in the area.
It is planned to use existent railroad lines for transporting up to 60% of all tourists visiting the North Caucasus. It is also planned to build new railroad lines in the development of the regional tourism cluster. There are railroad terminals in Beslan, Prokhladny, Ust-Jegutam, Cherkessk, Khadzhokh and Alagir. These terminals will have special zones for tourists, as well as integrated information systems and links to the airports.
The Mineralnye Vody International Airport will be the main air hub of the prospective North Caucasian tourist cluster.
The airport will meet modern demands and have two runways, which will operate under any weather conditions with high endurance. Any types of domestic and foreign aircraft will be able to use the airport, which will provide worthy aero-navigation and telecommunication services.