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Anton Zaitsev: “We have a very clear request from residents for normal recreational services”

Sakhalin Region announced the search for new investors in tourism infrastructure

Deputy Prime Minister of the Sakhalin Region Anton Zaitsev spoke about how the Sakhalin Region faced a shortage of tourist infrastructure, about the development of ecological tourism and victory in a prestigious All-Russian competition, as well as about the prospects for investing in the recreation sector on Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

Anton Zaitsev: “We have a very clear request from residents for normal recreational services”

- Anton Vladimirovich, Sakhalin Region became one of the winners of the prestigious competition for the development of ecological tourism, which was held during 2020 under the supervision of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. What will change in the region?

- We are grateful to ASI for the competition. The colleagues shared very deep insights into how ecological tourism works in the world. They also proposed a new methodology for the formation of tourist and recreational clusters. In a very short time, which were set aside within the framework of the competition for the preparation of applications, we formed two initiatives - "Laguna Busse" in the territory of the Korsakov urban district and "Southern Kuriles" on the territory of the islands of Kunashir and Shikotan. In fact, for the first time in these projects, initiatives for the development of infrastructure, marketing study of tourism products and new investment projects for business were interconnected. As a result, we were able to receive, on the one hand, clear tasks for ourselves - what infrastructure solutions should be given priority. On the other hand, more than 40 new investment projects have been collected, each of them has a reference to the land, economic study, for some there is even an understanding of construction technologies and preliminary architectural solutions.


- Who is the target audience of these projects?

- We were able to answer this question, the target audience is not one, there are twelve of them, and each requires a certain amount of attention, a reflection of its infrastructure needs. The largest audience now is local residents. This year, especially against the background of coronavirus restrictions, we have a very clear request from residents for normal recreational services, for a comfortable stay at home. The business that was able to quickly assess this demand and restructure its policy, not only did not lose, but turned out to be a winner.

The main idea of ​​the projects, such as Laguna Busse and the Southern Kuriles, is to create such conditions under which people will have less time on the road and will have new exciting opportunities for recreation. By means of targeted measures for the construction of roads, improvement of display facilities and the creation of new accommodation facilities, we give people the opportunity to manage their rest more comfortably: they have a great deal of variability in choosing specific routes and services, they can stop at places of accommodation for different tastes and wallets. opportunities for independent tourists are expanding. 

Ecological recreation cannot and will not be massive. Involving new territories for development, we separate streams and reduce the load on individual zones and objects of display.


- Now one of the problems of tourism in Sakhalin is the inaccessibility of attractions due to bad roads. How do you plan to resolve this issue?

- Development of road infrastructure is an important area of ​​activity for the Government of the Sakhalin Region. High-quality roads and transport are not only a matter of tourism - they are indicators of the region's living standards.

In recent years, a lot of work has been done to bring the road network to a standard state. Scheduled repairs of existing roads are being carried out, the share of hard-surface roads is increasing, and new directions are being built. I can safely say that today the existing roads on the territory of the Sakhalin Oblast have an appropriate level of quality and are well maintained. 

At the same time, the problem of transport accessibility of a number of tourist sites is indeed present. This is primarily due to the fact that access roads to a number of remote sites are not roads, are not on the balance sheet of municipalities and are not serviced. These are old forest driveways that do not have their own legal status.

We have to work with this. As part of the development of the Laguna Busse cluster, we envisage the construction of a Category V highway, which will unite key points of attraction in the southwestern part of Sakhalin Island into a circular route. The new road will be about 60 kilometers long. 

The second point is the development of sea transport. As you know, in the near future we are waiting for the completion of the construction of two cargo-passenger ships that will embark on the Sakhalin-Kuril route. In addition, we plan to ensure the development of coastal cruises that will allow tourists to reach key attractions by water. This approach will not only quickly solve the problem of transport accessibility, but also provide tourists with additional impressions: fantastic views of the coastline, waterfalls, seal rookeries and, of course, killer whales.


- Another important component for tourists is a place where you can spend the night, relax. Will new locations appear in Sakhalin Oblast? 

- The hotel fund of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is about 2,5 thousand rooms. This is a very good indicator. However, at peak times, for example, for the upcoming New Year holidays, there are no vacant rooms in hotels. It should be noted that new accommodation facilities appear in the city on a regular basis, but we are still catching up with demand.

In the future, we plan to create a new format for recreation on Sakhalin. Today the vast majority of hotels are concentrated in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and tourists are forced to return to the city every day after making radial trips.

It is assumed that on the territory of the tourist and recreational cluster "Laguna Busse" there will be several different formats of hotels and accommodation at once. We have allocated investment lots for a large hotel complex, a distributed hotel with separate cottages, and glamping sites.

Recently, as part of the Sakhalin Region Open Day for investors, we presented the investment community with elaborated and calculated investment projects with reference to specific land plots. These are complex resort hotels on Kunashir in the Hot Beach area and on Sakhalin on the shore of the Big Vavayskoye Lake. In addition, these are distributed hotels on the shores of Lake Change and in the area of ​​the village of Muravyovo, with direct access to the lake. Busse. For small and medium-sized businesses, hotel complexes are offered on the basis of non-capital buildings within the boundaries of specially protected natural areas - in the natural park "Laguna Busse" and in the nature reserves "Small Kuriles" on the island of Shikotan.


- "Rosa Khutor" plans to create an all-season mountain resort on Iturup. This project has been discussed for a year. At what stage is the project now, is it too large-scale for the Kuriles?

- This is indeed a very large-scale project, which implies the integrated development of the territory of the Iturup Island. Such projects are not done quickly, since we are talking about detailed calculations of the supporting infrastructure, about the elaboration of the technical parameters of the planned objects, about close work with investors, who will eventually enter the consortium for the project. As for globality, we see many examples in Russia and abroad, when the local area becomes a point of attraction for tourists from all over the world. Today on the Kuril Islands there are no modern complexes with a developed infrastructure and a wide range of services. I am sure that when such a facility appears, it will not lack tourists.


- Now the main point of attraction on Sakhalin is Mountain Air. How is it being updated now, the creation of new tracks? Is the complex ready to receive tourists?

- Sports and tourist complex "Mountain Air" - the best ski resort in the Far East of Russia. The favorable location, the infrastructure created in recent years and the available additional services for tourists make visiting the resort comfortable and attractive. On our slopes there is a system of artificial snowmaking, more and more trails are equipped with lighting for evening and night skiing.

During the season, many tourists return to us 2-3 times - in this, by the way, transport accessibility plays an important role. We subsidize regional air travel and see the result: most of the tourists come to us from Siberia and the Far East.

The ski season on Sakhalin will begin in the 20th of December and will last until mid-April. Now "Mountain Air" is preparing to receive the first visitors, this is a crucial moment, it is important for us that both Sakhalin residents and our guests experience only good emotions and enjoy skiing.


- Recently, the Association of Tour Operators announced that New Year's tour packages to the Far East have become cheaper, and Sakhalin will become the main direction. Is the region ready to receive tourists from all over the country amid a pandemic?

- The Sakhalin Region is ready to receive tourists at any time of the year. If we talk about winter, our winter program includes many activities related to active, cultural, educational, gastronomic and recreational tourism. 

Traditionally in winter the "Mountain Air" becomes the main point of attraction. At the same time, other activities are available to tourists. We highly recommend that guests of the region go on a snowmobile trip, try ice fishing or even crab fishing. Travel to the Kuril Islands, Kunashir or Iturup will bring even more emotions. I assure you that there is nothing better than swimming in the thermal springs in the winter under the open sky. 

This year, to visit the Sakhalin region, you must obtain a digital pass. The easiest way is to get a ticket to Sakhalin from one of the local tour operators. In this case, there will be no obstacles in front of you.


- How did the pandemic affect the tourism industry in the region? How was the summer season and are there any restrictions expected in the winter?

- Of course, the pandemic played a role, and many planned events did not take place or were reformatted. But there is another side: there was a reformatting of tourist flows, and we saw new target audiences in the Sakhalin region that had not previously visited our region.

Any crisis is a time of opportunity, and we are well aware that the work that is being carried out today to plan territories, to find investors for the construction of supply and tourism infrastructure - these are the measures that in 3, 5, 10 years will make the Sakhalin region one of the tourist centers of the entire Asia-Pacific region.

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