YAKUTSK, November 25. /TASS/. The number of tourists visiting Yakutia’s nature sights is expected to double by the end of 2017, regional Nature Protection Minister Sakhamin Afanasyev told TASS.
“We need to develop ecological tourism by improving attractiveness of our protected natural territories and nature parks, I believe they have huge potential. Our unique natural landmarks attract tourists from all over the world but since infrastructure is not developed enough, the number of people visiting the sights is not high. We plan that the tourist inflow to natural sights will double, growing from 15,000 to 30,000 by the end of 2017,” he said.
There are over 220 protected natural territories in Yakutia including two that are on UNESCO’s list of world natural heritage sites, as well as six nature parks and 13 natural reserves.
According to the minister, there is a need to strengthen efforts to develop infrastructure in the national parks in order to increase tourist inflow. This year, a cruise down the Lena River to the Lenskiye Stolby (Lena Pillars) Nature Park that is one of the protected natural territories as well as a UNESCO’s intangible heritage site, has been included into the Eastern Ring of Russia brand.
In 2015, a total of 156,000 tourists visited Yakutia which is nine percent less than in 2014. The main obstacles preventing the tourism inflow growth are high airline ticket prices and lack of a centralized sale system for tour packages.