"The decision to give up tourist voyages is connected with a growing volume of freight transportations via the Northern Sea Route for which most of the icebreakers will be employed," Deputy director general of the "Atomflot"(icebreaker fleet) company Mustafa Kashka told ITAR-TASS Wednesday.
This year a new icebreaker - "The 50th Anniversary of Victory" has been to the North Pole five times with around a hundred tourists on every voyage. Most of the vacationers were citizens of the United States and the European Union, while Russian citizens accounted for around 20% of the overall tourists on vacation via the northern route. The itinerary traditionally included territories of the Land of Franz Josef archipelago, with Arctic birds and sea animals being the main tourist attraction. Lovers of extreme tourism were offered to dive into a hole cut in the Arctic ice.
Arctic cruise voyages were conducted on board Russian icebreakers since 1991.
According to preliminary estimates, in the next few years the volume of freight traffic there might grow manifold; one of the reasons is an interest shown by foreign countries, and China in particular, in transportations via the northern route.