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"The hostels grow like mushrooms"

The head of Ulan-Ude Alexander Golkov believes that tourism in Buryatia and the Irkutsk region should develop in accordance with its own, special program

Photo: withGod / Shutterstock.com

Against the backdrop of the impressive growth in the statistics of tourist flows to Kamchatka and Primorsky Krai (which grew last year in 3 and 1,5 times, respectively), EastRussia correspondent asked questions about the representative of another tourist mecca of the East of Russia - the Baikal region. Mayor of Ulan-Ude Alexander Golkov kindly agreed to a conversation.

- Alexander Mikhailovich, can the Republic of Buryatia now boast of its indicators in the field of tourism?

- Of course. The main one is an annual increase in the volume of inbound tourism by 8-10%. At the same time, due to the abolition of the visa restriction with Mongolia, as well as the low ruble rate, the number of tourists from Mongolia increased six-fold in the region. There was also some growth of Chinese people visiting the republic for tourist purposes - also due to the low ruble rate.

- How can you generally describe the development of tourism in Buryatia?

- In the total volume of tourist flows of the country 60% is domestic tourism. Accordingly 40% is an entry. But, as I said, its volume grows every year. Moreover, inbound tourism is developing much more actively than domestic tourism. In turn, the state bodies of the Republic are equally focused on the development in it of both domestic tourism and entry. At the same time, if you select objects in the region where they primarily seek to develop tourism, then such an object is unchanged and unique in its priority - so far, nothing has risen in line with Lake Baikal.

- Unfortunately, among a large part of the Russian population there is generally a stereotype that tourism in the Republic of Buryatia is only Lake Baikal ...

- Of course it is not. Indeed, the internal tourist in the republic is mainly attracted by Lake Baikal. But it is exactly what attracts you - as they know about the existence of other tourist objects on its territory. We are talking about a number of objects that already enjoy some popularity among the "entry" tourist. These sacred places of the republic are objects of visiting people within the framework of the so-called pilgrimage tourism. Representing no less interest for tourism is the Ivolginsky fortified settlement, an archaeological complex located in the Ivolginsky district of the Republic of Buryatia, at 15 kilometers south-west of the center of Ulan-Ude, on the site of one of the largest centers of the northern edge of the Hun Empire, which existed in antiquity. At the same time, event tourism is developed in the Republic. One of the events attracting tourists is just the celebration of the Day of the Ancient City - Ivolginsky hillfort.

- How would you say that it will be the main indicator that tourism in Buryatia is developing accordingly?

- Everyone knows that it is extremely difficult to attract one tourist to the same place twice. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that some tourists do not return to many places of their vacation in their entire life. But the fact that this is difficult to do does not mean that it is impossible.

We have a huge tourist potential: both Baikal, and the religious and historical sights I noted earlier, and, for example, the same level as in Kamchatka, balneological resorts, with no less than there, "life-giving" hot springs, mud and other unique treasures of nature. Moreover, in an amount comparable to that in the Kamchatka Territory.

It should be noted that in the development of tourism of the Republic its balneological resorts need to be given due. Because exactly they have the ability to attract tourists to them more than once, and many times - in particular, because vacationers, bathing in the springs or taking a mud bath, get used to their specific chemical composition. And due to this habit one way or another, but at least three or four times in their entire lives they will visit them. In addition, one should take into account the fact that in Buryatia, the so-called "diversification" of the trip is possible: a tourist, for example, may spend one day in Ulan-Ude with a certain cultural or educational program, and then go, with a completely different Program, to the same Orioles or to Baikal.

- If we talk in more detail about measures for the development of tourism in Buryatia, some of them are probably being taken now. For example, the most important is the solution of infrastructure issues.

- Yes, you are absolutely - within the framework of such a direction of measures promoting the development of tourism in the republic, as creating a comfortable environment for it, the authorities of the region are actively engaged in the development of its road and communal infrastructure. At the same time, both in the territory of the Baikal tourist and recreational zone, and around Ulan-Ude, tourist bases grow, you can say, as mushrooms.

- In your opinion, is it effective for the Baikal region to cooperate with the Far Eastern macroregion in the development of tourism? Or should the region create its own strategy?

- Of course, he should. Because the tourism in these regions imposes a special imprint Lake Baikal, to which they adjoin. Which is today not only a Russian property, but also a world brand, since UNESCO declared it not only as a value on a world scale. In the republic, ecologically pure tourism is the only reason - because the factories operating here have established strict environmental restrictions. On the other hand, everything that is being done in the region, including tourism, should be oriented towards a careful attitude to nature, to Lake Baikal. These two points, as well as the maximum consideration of environmental friendliness in principle in everything that concerns the development of tourism in the country and should be taken into account in the tourism development program specially developed for the Baikal region. 

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