TASS, December 16. Developed regional airlines and subsidized fares will boost the interest to the Arctic Tourism-Recreational Cluster in the Taimyr District (the Krasnoyarsk Region), Director of the Norilsk Development Agency Maxim Mironov told the Arctic: Present and Future international forum.
"As for the logistics around the Taimyr, and inside the tourism cluster, everything is rather complicated. We have only one road - between Norilsk and Dudinka, and the entire remaining area (about 900,000 square kilometers), equal to three sizes of Italy, does not have any roads. The available transport in summer is by water or by a helicopter. A helicopter’s cost is 270,000 rubles ($3,700) and hour, which apparently is expensive for tourists. We approach gradually the task to develop regional airlines <…> There is not much to be done from the beginning - the Taimyr used to have successful regional airlines, there are many runways, which have been abandoned lately," he said.
The Agency jointly with experts from St. Petersburg will look into further development of regional airlines in the north and will file suggestions on it with the Ministry of the Far East and Arctic, Rostourism (tourism authority), he added.
Norilsk, along with Yakutia and Chukotka, leads in air fares, and subsidies could cut prices and thus could make the regions more attractive for tourists. In addition to this, the recently upgraded Norilsk airport, having cutting-edge equipment and infrastructures, may be granted the status of an international airport, thus cutting the logistics leg and traveling expenses for foreign visitors.
Despite the pandemic
According to the expert, the developing Arctic Tourism Cluster will take leading positions. The Putorana Plateau, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, attracts foreign tourists. "The world of the Putorana Plateau is a place of a thousand lakes and unique waterfalls. Including Russia’s highest waterfall - Kandinsky, and the strongest waterfall - Bolshoi Kureisky," he said.
The cluster unites the territories of Norilsk, Dudinka and the Putorana Plateau. Norilsk will be the center of cultural and industrial tourism, Dudinka - of the ethnography tourism, and the Putorana Plateau will attract fans of extreme and ecology tourism.
During the continuing pandemic, when traveling across the globe has been limited, the number of Russian travelers to the North has grown in 2020, the Agency reported. "The pandemic is a crisis for the tourism sector. But, despite the shrunk season, the cluster has registered higher numbers of Russian visitors (both from Taimyr’s other districts and from Russia’s other parts)," the Agency’s Deputy Director Anastasiya Korol told TASS. "Anyway, the work on the master plan is underway, the infrastructure and other projects will be implemented, and thus the cluster will be receiving more and more guests."
In 2019, the Taimyr Peninsula welcomed 4,800 tourists. In 2020, regardless of all the limitations, more than 5,000 tourists have visited Taimyr already. Every year, another 20,000 business visitors come to the region’s north - to Norilsk and Taimyr, she added.
The Arctic tourism is a niche and expensive sector, Director of the Siberian Association of Hospitality Irina Maximova told TASS. "The complicated climate conditions, logistics, catering make the process expensive, and it will never become affordable and popular," she said. However, she continued, interest to traveling the Arctic is only growing. "The interest is very high, and in case of effective infrastructures and good accommodation, it will be growing," she added.
The cluster’s biggest projects are - the construction of three hotels in Norilsk and an upgrade of one hotel in Dudinka, as well as long-awaited regulations and unification of tourism services. Besides, presently continues work on the Ol-Gul ski resort near Norilsk. The shore line will be expanded there, and later on the resort will develop into a sports and tourism center.
In November, the Norilsk Nickel Company (Nornickel) announced plans to organize an Arctic resort on the Putorana Plateau. "We shall build the Putorana Plateau resort, which will be near Lake Melkoye," the company’s Vice President Andrei Grachev told the forum. "It is a unique park, where on the limited territory, in a walking distance will be values of the polar nature. Private investments will be about 15 billion rubles ($204 million)."
In addition to traditional infrastructures, the cluster focuses on digital infrastructures. "We are about to finish work on the Arctic Zone digital innovation platform. Site or application users will receive the latest information on tourist attractions and routes, or will plan their own routes with accredited guides. The platform will be in three languages - Russian, English and Chinese," Anastasiya Korol told TASS.
Specialists have been working on new routes and attractions. Jointly with local authorities, the Taimyr Nature Reserves’ administration and WWF Russia they have surveyed the Khatanga direction - towards the Laptev Sea and the [Maria] Pronchishcheva Bay. The expedition studied the bay’s shores, where individual tourists like to spend time. The experts analyzed the flora and fauna, bottoms of the Laptev Sea, Khatanga Bay and Lake Kingasovakha, they verified rookeries of walruses and migration routes of musk oxen. They searched for traces from the 18th-century’s Great Northern Expedition. In 1740, Khariton Laptev’s Yakutsk vessel entered the Khatanga Bay.
For 2021, the experts plan an expedition to Dikson - Russia’s one of northernmost settlements, and to Eurasia’s northernmost mainland - Cape Chelyuskin.