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Arctic regions of Russia's North-West may attract 1.5 million tourists a year — expert

August 21, 10:43 UTC+3 VORKUTA

Tourist operators and the market experts name another direction, which may attract more tourists to the Arctic - festivals

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VORKUTA, August 18. /TASS/. The number of tourists, who come every year to the Arctic regions and other districts of the North-Western Federal District, may be increased by five times, Konstantin Anglinov of the National Academy of Tourism (St. Petersburg) said on sidelines of the Accessible Arctic international tourism forum.

"It is realistic to attract here as many as 1.5 million tourists, while now they make only 300,000 to all the [Arctic] regions [in the North-Western Federal District]," he told TASS.

"The increase by five times may be reached by the local resources."

"First of all, what is in the way [of attracting more tourists], is the insufficient use of available local resources," he continued. "Secondly, a lack of a systematic presentation of every district and its development program, and the third, and most important, what is lacking here is the regional programs are not synchronized with federal special programs. Those are the aspects, which are in the way of effective work here."

The focus is on ethnic features

The tourist companies, which attended the forum, confirmed they are working now more actively with local resources and focus programs on ethnic attractions. This really attracts more tourists, they said.

For example, a Finno-Ugric ethnic park in the Komi Republic plans organizing a reconstruction of a Finno-Ugric settlement. According to the park's Deputy Director Olga Nasonova, tourists will see an ethnic village there as they take a tour called Silver Necklace of Russia. The Silver Necklace project features monuments of culture and nature in Russia’s Northwest: from Ladoga to Solovki (or the Solovetsky Islands) and from Kaliningrad to Komi [Republic]. The project currently unites the North-Western Federal District’s eleven regions and involves more than 30 Russian companies.

Another direction for development is ethnic hunting. Komi now invites tourists to a cuisine tour of Syktyvkar, to an oil tour beginning from Kirov or Veliky Ustyug via Syktyvkar to Ukhta, and to an Arctic tour to thermal springs.

Deputy Director of Yamaltour (the biggest tourist operator in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District - TASS) Irina Plotnikova, said ethnic tours are most popular in the District, and the unique "sacred island" of the North's indigenous peoples, where they used to pray to their divinity. The island presents more than 200 sites of cultural heritage, including in culture of Pomors, and the Western Arctic's biggest nesting site.

Nikolai Semenchuk of the Center for Arctic Tourism spoke about organized tours to the Vaigach Island, which the center began offering a year earlier. "Tours to Vaigach began last winter, and most Russians are going there," he said. "It is a long tour - the way to the island took 4-5 days, and the return trip took ten days because of the frosts and snowstorms," he said, adding the weather however does not frighten off the tourists.

Event tourism is popular in the Arctic

Tourist operators and the market experts name another direction, which may attract more tourists to the Arctic - festivals and similar events. The Arkhangelsk region has positive experience in the sphere. From 2012, it hosts the Taibola Northern Arts Festival.

Each year, about 5,000 people come to the festival, Director of the Fund for Research and Development of the Arctic (Arkhangelsk region) Alexander Mokeyev said. "Every year, the fesival organizes one or two stages for musical groups of different directions, mostly ethnic. Crafts are widely presented there. Guests attend master classes in dancing, playing instruments, in the tea ceremony or Yoga," he said.

The festival's goal is to promote the region in order to attract more visitors - it 'travels' the region's districts, but anyway its venues are always on shores of the White Sea or the Northern Dvina River. The forum's platforms present various arts objects, which later on remain in the districts and attract tourists for a few years onwards.

"This model [of attracting tourists] has proved to be effective and could be used in other regions, too," the Fund's director said.

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