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Bering Strait Festival to Address Rapid Development of Tourism in Arctic

4 August 2022
Опережающее развитие туризма в Арктике  обсудили на фестивале «Берингов пролив»

Participants in the plenary session ‘Tourism in the Arctic. Rapid Development’ at the Bering Strait International Festival will discuss ways to improve the tourism industry in the Russian North. The festival is taking place on 27 August in Anadyr as part of the main events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 20212023, which are being organized by the Roscongress Foundation.

“A multinational people has always been and remains Russia’s main value. Thanks to such multifaceted events as the Bering Strait Festival, we not only can preserve and develop the culture of Indigenous peoples, but also help to discover Russia in a new way in all its diversity and individuality. Our country consistently advocates for the development of tourism based on sustainable principles in the interests of the socioeconomic development of the region, support for small businesses, and, of course, the preservation of cultural and natural heritage,” Chairman of the Arctic Senior Officials and Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Korchunov said in his welcome address.

“Today, tourism is becoming increasingly important for Russia’s Arctic territories. Our citizens are becoming more interested in their country and discovering new routes for themselves. The Arctic is becoming a popular travel destination. Our goal is to make the Arctic open to tourists. Everything suggests that Arctic tourism has every reason to become a significant industry in the regions of the Russian North, and, of course, the Chukotka Autonomous District. We need to not only think about building up the Arctic with modern hotels and providing tourists with a wide range of services and entertainment, but also about ensuring the preservation of the unique nature and interests of Indigenous peoples,” State Secretary and Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Pavel Volkov said.

Volkov said that every tenth project in the preferential regimes operating in the Arctic regions is related to the tourism industry. The existing preferences help to create good conditions for starting and running a business.

Chukotka Autonomous District Governor Roman Kopin said that his district’s government has made it a top priority to provide support for entrepreneurs and is ready to assist investors in developing tourism infrastructure.

“Chukotka is interested in tourism. We have a lot to learn here. We know that our neighbours in the Arctic regions have been more active in this regard, and their experience is crucial for us. We are taking steps to improve this area. We are working on transport accessibility and attracting federal carriers. We provide support to our entrepreneurs and, thanks to this, we have weekend tours, such as boat trips along the Anadyr estuary and sea trips to Egvekinot. We are also expanding domestic flight programmes. The issue of developing infrastructure remains a difficult one. We are helping to build up businesses to this end. This year, a hotel will appear in the village of Ugolniye Kopi. We are supporting the construction of ethnoparks near Anadyr and Egvekinot, as well as glamping at Lorinskiye Hot Springs,” Kopin said.

Air transport accessibility is a key driver for the development of Arctic tourism, Far East and Arctic Development Corporation Managing Director Ivan Pechorin said. Low population density, long distances, and a lack of alternatives to air transport in the Arctic have prompted the government to provide co-financing for numerous routes. Aeroflot has already begun operating flights from Moscow to Anadyr, S7 has a flight between Irkutsk and Anadyr as well as Vladivostok and Anadyr, and a flight from Novosibirsk might start running in autumn. In addition, United Far Eastern Airline, which was established per instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the basis of the Aurora carrier, continues to operate flights from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Khabarovsk to Anadyr. By 2025–2026, the carrier’s route network should be replenished with 45 new Russian aircraft, including the Sukhoi Superjet New, Il-114, L-410, and the light-engine LMS Baikal, which are replacing imported aircraft.

“The Russian Ministry of Transport and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, along with the governments of the regions of the Far East and the Arctic, are discussing the possibility of the Russian government adopting a decree to co-finance the regions’ expenditure obligations from the federal budget so that local airlines become more accessible within the regions. Given the limited regional funding from the budgets of most Russian regions in the Far Eastern Federal District and the Arctic, support from the federal centre is important,” Pechorin said.

Pechorin said it is particularly important to rebuild Arctic and Far Eastern airports. In particular, six airports in Chukotka are scheduled to be rebuilt in the coming years.

The festival’s business programme also included four discussions on various ways to develop the tourism industry in the Arctic. Experts discussed ethno-cultural, ecological, and extreme tourism, how to involve the local population in the hospitality industry, as well as best practices in organizing travel in the Arctic.

The festival programme will continue with cultural events, such as the Bering Games International Sports Competitions among representatives of the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic and an expedition around the region. The festival’s events will also be dedicated to the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August. In addition, the Chukotsky District village of Lorino in the Chukotka Autonomous District will host the Beringia Regatta of Sea Hunters, during which team races will be held on traditional Chukotka canoes among men’s and women’s teams. The festival is being organized by the Government of the Chukotka Autonomous District and the Russian Tourism Agency.

As part of its chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, Russia is devoting considerable attention to the development of sustainable tourism in the Arctic to promote the progressive socioeconomic development of the Arctic regions, support small and medium-sized businesses in high latitudes, and also preserve and enhance the cultural heritage of the Indigenous peoples of the North.