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HARBIN, China, June 17 (Itar-Tass) —— A delegation of the Altai territory presents tourism and recreation zones and unusual tourist routes at the 23rd Harbin International Economic and Trade Fair, Altai Territorial Deputy Governor Mikhail Shchetinin told Russian journalists.
“We present the Grand Altai Golden Ring and the Small Altai Golden Ring tourist routes at the fair,” he said. “The first route includes 24 districts and four cities of the Altai territory with an access to the Novosibirsk and Kemerovo regions and the border with Kazakhstan. Tourists will visit Cossack settlements to familiarize with countryside life. The second route will familiarize tourists with the works of Vasily Shukshin and archaeological sites. That is an eco-tourism option,” he added.
“Alas, few Chinese tourists visit the Altai territory. We have visa-free exchanges but Chinese tourists prefer visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg. Not only the territorial authorities but also the Regional Development Ministry, the Culture Ministry and the Federal Tourism Agency need to change the trend. We have a vast country, and each region has its advantages. All regions must be presented and shown to the foreign public,” he said.
The Altai territory is one of the biggest constituents of the Russian Federation, the vice-governor said. “The territory has unique nature and climate. It is a popular tourist destination. We had approximately 400,000 tourist arrivals in 2006, and 1.3 million in 2011. It is our goal to increase the number of tourist arrivals to 3-3.5 million. That is a realistic goal, especially as the Altai territory has hotel accommodation for 45,000 guests, including 16,000 in round-the-year facilities,” he said.
The Russian exposition at the Harbin Trade Fair is dedicated to the vast tourism options of Russia and its regions.
Director of the Regional Development Ministry’s Investment Project Department Denis Travin explained the relatively small number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Russia with the deficiency of information about the country, tourism options and infrastructure.
Russia-China tourism arrivals topped 3.3 million last year. China was visited by 2.5 million Russian tourists, which was 7% more than the year before. China ranks second by tourist arrivals in Russia, with more than 800,000 Chinese tourists visiting Russia in 2011.
Seventy-six countries are represented at the Harbin Trade Fair this year, but Russia is in the limelight, primarily due to our neighborly relations, he said.
The Harbin Trade Fair held since 1990 is mostly targeted on Russia, CIS countries and Eastern Europe. It will end on June 19.