SYKTYVKAR, November 28. /TASS/. The Komi region in Russia’s Urals should build a new airfield to attract more tourists to the remote Manpupuner plateau famous for its seven gigantic stone pillars, Dmitry Kirillov, the head of the Severny Ural tour company, told TASS on Tuesday.
Manpupuner, which translates from the Komi language as ‘the small mountain of idols’ is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Russia. Its giant abnormally shaped stone pillars are on located the territory of the Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve.
About 200 million years ago high mountains were on the place of these stone pillars. Their height ranges between 30 and 42 meters. In past times the Mansi people worshipped the bizarre stone statues but climbing the pillars was considered the greatest sin.
"Visits to the Manpupuner plateau were prohibited before 2015 when a hiking trail was built to the pillars," Kirillov said. "Up to 1,100 people can visit the plateau in the high season but this year their number hardly reached 400. The ‘stone idols’ remain unavailable to most tourists. It is either too expensive or too long to travel there."
"The construction of an airfield with a landing strip on the border of the Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve could solve the problem," he added.
According to Kirillov, the existing helipad some 1.6 kilometers away from the Manpupuner plateau is not enough.
"In 2017, we had simultaneous landing requests from several helicopters but we were unable to give permission. The helipad is meant for just one helicopter," Kirillov said. "Komi needs an airfield on the reserve’s border to receive airplanes, and these flights will be less expensive."
"Regular flights from Syktyvkar (the regional center) to Manpupuner could be launched in summer," he added.
He said the airfield construction would cost 12 million rubles (more than $205,000) and could be completed during the summer season.
If the regional authorities do not support the idea, he is ready to implement his plan himself, Kirillov said.
According to him, trips to the unique plateau will be twice cheaper and cost some 16,000 rubles ($274) if the airfield is built.
Sergei Yemelianov, the Komi minister for culture and tourism, told TASS that this project should thoroughly discussed with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, the Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve management and environmentalists.
"Our task is to show the region’s beauty to as many tourists as possible," the minister said. "I do support this idea."
The secluded plateau is not well known internationally and remains relatively unspoiled by tourism.