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ARKHANGELSK, October 1. /TASS/. Plans to terminate commercial tours to the North Pole on the nuclear-powered icebreakers of the Atomflot company in 2016 have triggered an agitated surge of demand for these tours, Sergey Shirokiy, the chief of the tourist department of the Russian Arctic national park told reporters on Thursday as he summed up the results of the tourist season.
Over the six years since the opening of the park on the Franz Joseph Land high-latitude archipelago, it was visited by a record number of 1,225 tourists from 41 countries this year.
The figure for last year was almost twice as little, 738.
"Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom (which owns Atomflot) said last year it would terminate the cruises to the North Pole and this led up to an agitated demand this year," Shirokiy said. "Seven cruises were made instead of the initially scheduled five ones."
However, Atomflot said later its nuclear icebreakers would continue making cruises to the Pole.
One more factor that stimulated the increase of the tourist flow was the opening of a border crossing checkpoint on Alexandra Land Island, which makes it possible the arrival of ships right away from Svalbard, Norway.
All in all, eleven cruises were made during the summer to Franz Joseph Land.
"Thanks to an increase in the number of Arctic travelers the national park earned 5,000 rubles on each of them, or slightly more than 6 million rubles all in all," Roman Yershov, the director of the Russian Arctic park told TASS.
The park was set up in June 2009. It embraces the northern part of the Severny (Northern) island of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, the Greater Oranje and the Smaller Oranje Islands, which are also part of Novaya Zemlya, and some others.
The overall area covered by the national park is 1,426,000 hectares.
A trip to Franz Joseph Land offers an opportunity to see some rare animals, the largest bird colonies in the northern hemisphere, the samples of Arctic vegetation, glaciers, cliffs, and remainders of winter camps of the explorers who came there from end of the 16th century through the beginning of the 20th century.