BEIJING, March 24 (Itar-Tass) — The Irkutsk Region is interested not only in boosting the tourist flow to and from China, but also in joint work to improve tourist infrastructure, said on Saturday in an interview with Itar-Tass Governor of the Irkutsk Region Dmitry Mezentsev.
He participated in the first Russian-Chinese forum on cooperation in the tourism sphere that opened in the Chinese capital.
According to the governor, an evident enough and deplorable conclusion was made during contacts and consultations with the Chinese side that “tourism infrastructure now, including the Irkutsk Region, and a shortage of high-grade hotels are one of real obstacles”.
“That is why we are conducting now active talks on building several big, including chain, hotels with our Chinese partners who will execute orders of the Irkutsk Region, which will help to increase the number of hotel rooms by about three-four times over the next five-seven years,” said Mezentsev.
“We understand pretty well that we are obliged to arrange not only tourist flows, different in scale and quality, but also to create infrastructure. The Chinese side displayed interest relatively recently in an impressive project which can drastically change the situation with infrastructure and tourist potential in the zone of Lake Baikal in the Irkutsk Region,” he stated.
The governor also described specific tasks in work in the tourist industry. “One of our closest microtasks is establishment (approved by the federal government) a special economic zone of a tourist-recreation type, “Baikal Gate”.
Under this project, the region has already created, including by private investors, initial stages of infrastructure for skiing tourism and tourism on Baikal in the Slyudyansky district,” he emphasized. “We understand that it will not be enough for us to create only one tourist area: we examine one more, possibly, two grounds for the development of a single special economic zone,” Mezentsev continued.
In the governor’s words, the region now drafts proposals on improving federal and regional legislations, which will help to preserve the ecological system and will be in line with ecological requirements on economic activities in the Baikal zone and will push at the same time the sphere of tourism and small business.
“We shall not be able without the above to ensure either a real increase in the number of jobs, or tax revenues and, what is the main thing, creation of an atmosphere of consistent build-up of a potential (without disregarding small things), which will help also to take into account Chinese experience,” Mezentsev summed up.
According to official data, the Irkutsk Region was visited by around 20,000 tourists from China in 2011. The trend for a rise in this indicator emerged over the past few years. However, the governor believes that much has to be still done in this sphere.