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"We have a lot of potential, and most importantly, business believed in it"

Vitaly Selyukov on the turn of the tourism industry in the Khabarovsk Territory into the domestic market

Khabarovsk Territory is a region with the richest nature, convenient logistics and developed industry, the combination of which opens up great prospects for the development of tourism. What achievements 2016 brought the year and how to tackle the medium-term tasks facing the industry, said Deputy Minister of Culture - Head of the Khabarovsk Krai Tourism Department Vitaly Selyukov to EastRussia.

"We have a lot of potential, and most importantly, business believed in it"
Photo: shutterstock
- The last few years have brought a lot of difficulties to Russian tourism. In Khabarovsk territory coped with them?
- Until recently, the tourist business of the Khabarovsk Territory was mainly engaged in organizing recreation for residents of the region abroad: this was up to 98-99% of the market. But with the 2013 year, the regional state program for the development of domestic and inbound tourism began to operate. And it has borne fruit: the tourist business "turned around". As a result of 2016, 226 companies operated in the industry, including 97 tour operators - these are companies that themselves form a tourism product in the form of a package of services. Of these, 87% worked in the inbound and outward directions. Travel agents who sell the product as intermediaries have a similar indicator - about 45%. This is a significant reversal of the market.

- How did this affect tourist flows?
- There are more foreign tourists, in 2016 year the indicator grew by 15% to the level of 2015 year - we were visited by 36 thousand guests from abroad. Citizens of China arrived 23,2 thousand people - 24% more, the Republic of Korea - 8,3 thousand people, 38% more. Of the Russian regions, Khabarovsk territory was visited by 520 thousand people, this is 13,3% more than a year ago. The figures are good - growth, although it is also due to external factors, for example, the fall of the ruble, which provoked the influx of foreigners. But I do not belittle the merits of the tourism companies involved in the construction of new facilities, the certification of new interesting routes - we now have 72. These routes, I stress, are not creativity of officials. It was our message to business - to create. Of course, we helped: they collected tourist companies, drove them to this or that district of the region, showed events and places.

- Was this "turn" difficult?
- Of course, it’s not easy to create your own product. Especially if before the company worked only at the exit, earning a commission. A tour is both a docking of transport, and a selection of hotels, and a search for "highlights" for the route. A big responsibility and a difficult task is to interest a person. Of course, outbound tourism is still developing: last year 135 thousand people left the region, which is 13,5% more than in 2015, most of them to China. But in fact, and domestic tourism - it is cost effective. In 2016, tourism services in the region were rendered to 1,31 billion rubles, hotel services - to 2,7 billion rubles. This is about 0,3-0,5% of the annual turnover of all branches of the Khabarovsk Territory. But this is a very good indicator, if we compare it with the turnover of even five years ago. Contribution of the industry to the budget of the regional budget - 192,5 mln rub. It employs more than 5,2 thousand people.

- As one large plant in scale, right?
- Yes, probably. But the plant is easier to manage - it's still a single object.

- Does it help the industry from the federal budget?
“In 2015, we defended the financing of the Big Ussuri Island - Shantar Islands tourism cluster. This is the largest in length object of this kind - under 1,3 thousand. Km. Usually a cluster is a point, and for a long time we had to justify the need for just such a configuration — along the Amur and at sea. But it is objectively necessary. We think for the future. Today there are no cruise ships on the river, and there is no cruise tourism as such. The potential is huge, but you need to recreate the coastal cruise infrastructure - without it, ships will not be able to run.

- And they will appear?
- The question rests on the means. Once there were seven cruise ships on the river, but the last one, the Vasily Poyarkov motor ship, was put out of operation three years ago. At one time, according to our order, we were preparing a project for a modern cruise ship specially for the Amur. The cost came from 500 million to 2 billion rubles. This is not quite what we wanted. We need vessels such as "Erofeya Khabarova", where there are also cabins, a wardroom, a bar, and an upper deck. After all, the cruise duration is up to seven days, and people should be able to spend them as comfortably as possible. The edge also has the opportunity to arrange cross-border tours to China - along the Sungari. And my dream is for people to have the opportunity to change planes in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur to sea-river vessels and go to other subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District or abroad. But there is no private investor yet, and the money is very long - the payback is up to 17 years, plus, to gain profitability, you need to have from three to six vessels. The state will not invest in it, there are enough worries and enough.

- To equip the coast - this is also a huge investment. The work is divided into stages?
- Total financing of cluster facilities - 632,5 million rubles. There are several of them. It is from the south to the north - the complex "Zaimka", the quay of Khabarovsk, the Voronezh complex, the village of Sikachi-Alan. So we will reach Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, in the lower reaches. The end point is Onghachan Bay in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk, the famous "maternity hospital for whales". There is a base camp for the reception of tourists. While it is designed for comfortable living 50 people: houses, baths, watchtower for watching the sea. From there, radial tours are organized for people who want to visit the Shantar archipelago.

- Fifty people - and what, enough?
- So far, enough, because the big problem is the transport accessibility of those places, and the short-lived season, August-September. The transfer to Ongachan is possible only by helicopters through the settlements of Briakan or Berezovy. The cost of a flight hour is from 140 thousand rubles. But only from Briakan, where refueling is carried out, to the bay - almost two hours of flight. Accordingly, tours are expensive - only for transport each participant needs to spend from 100 thousand rubles. Meals, equipment, work of guides, use of boats - additional costs. But Shantars is something that is worth seeing.

- Have you already started developing funds for cluster development?
- The first tranche came in 2016 year - 177 million rubles. We started from the embankment. The work is serious: everything is opened, strengthened, rotundas are put, new lanterns are laid, new pavers are laid, networks are laid. There will be a fountain, and in general the entire embankment will be transformed - next is planned a new hotel, food facilities. Now the task is to get money for the next stage. A quay wall will be built for cruise ships, and motor and sailing yachts will be moored here, because the development of a cruise cluster is unthinkable without yachts. I want everything to be beautiful. This place should become a river facade of Khabarovsk.

- And around the Big Ussuri Island, too, it will be possible to go on a yacht, as we have long been promised?
- We hope this project will take place sometime. Now the ready infrastructure to moor and store vessels is at Zaimka. Perhaps it will be possible to resolve the issue of organizing a temporary checkpoint at the river station “Zaimki” until a stationary point is built on the island itself - on the border. The owner of the complex would invest in the checkpoint on the island, but due to the uncertainty with the refund mechanism, the project is unprofitable.

- Is it all for foreigners?
- Not at all. The stage has already passed when we handed over our walkways to metal or wood, and to foreign guests in carpets. All are equally important to us. Moreover, now tourists, no matter where they come from, leave about the same means. Rush demand from Chinese citizens for cosmetics, branded clothing, gold, food products due to the fall of the ruble exchange rate - this is all temporary. This is what came and goes. And we focus primarily on those who are interested in our culture, customs, nature. For these, we have developed an 72 route along the edge, and this is not the limit.

- Khabarovsk - the traditional point of attraction. Beyond it, what to see?
- There is a lot of work to increase the tourist attraction of the second largest city in the region - Komsomolsk-on-Amur. There must also be a tourist and recreational cluster, which will consist of four sites in the city itself and the fifth in the neighboring Solnechny district - the complex "Kholdomi", our main ski facility. This is a place of recreation for the residents and visitors. The total cost of the project is about 4,8 billion rubles. Financing in the amount of 927 million rubles. Within the framework of the implementation of a comprehensive development plan, the city will be allocated by the federal center. Still about 3,7 billion rubles. Should make extrabudgetary injections. Also 2,8 billion rubles. Will be allocated through the Ministry of Construction for the reconstruction of the embankment of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. These amounts have already been fixed in the government decree. This allows us to hope that the city will receive a new impulse of development from the point of view of tourism.

- Industrial tourism, as they say, is claimed by guests from Asia, but this is just one of the advantages of Komsomolsk-on-Amur?
- And not only him. Today we are busy with Chegdomyn, there is a SUEK facility - Urgalugol. The object is interesting, but difficult: it is not very convenient to get there, there are no hotels as such, no restaurants. But we see that there are interested. For example, schoolchildren from other districts of the region - for them this may become an element of local history, and, maybe, even the definition of a future profession. The cost of such a route "Chegdomyn - the edge of black gold" starts from 2,8 thousand per person - it is quite affordable.

- Do you want to watch only enterprises and equipment?
- In 2016, the workshops of four leading enterprises of the region - the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant, the Komsomolsk oil refinery, Amurmetal OJSC and Amur shipyard PJSC - were visited by more than 9 thousand people, of which 5,1 thousand were schoolchildren. To fully exploit the potential, everything must be tied to the events that attract guests. The Far Eastern Congress of Engineers showed itself well in this regard. From 2018 on even years in Komsomolsk-on-Amur it is planned to hold the Komsomolsk Aviation and Space Salon - in September, when the weather is the best in the Khabarovsk Territory.

- Is the city ready for such a large-scale event?
- Yes, we see that so far - not at all. Moscow Aviation and Space Salon receives up to a million visitors. In Komsomolsk-on-Amur, with all the recreation centers and motels, there are about 950 hotel rooms. This is extremely small. In Khabarovsk, for comparison, at the same time you can place about 5 thousand people, and new hotels are being built. In 2017-2018, three facilities of three or four stars on 400 rooms, including a Hilton hotel, will be delivered.

- The air show will bring event tourism to the inter-regional scale, but for now these events are more likely district ones?
- There are a lot of events in municipalities that can attract more tourists - provided they are promoted. In Sovgavansky district, for example, in March, the festival of ice fishing “Silver smelt” takes place, in Vyazemsky - the jam festival. There is a festival of indigenous creativity, the first pink salmon festival, the gastronomic festival Fish Amour Fest. The festival of musical orchestras Amur Waves is traditionally held in Khabarovsk in May.

- What other places in the Khabarovsk Territory can generate a constant incoming tourist traffic?
- We have a unique potential region. And the great river, and countless lakes, and endless taiga, and access to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk and the Sea of ​​Japan. There are even mud springs in Vaninsky and Sovgavansky districts, much better in quality than the Chinese ones, where only thousands of people travel annually to the 15 only from the region. Of course, all this needs to be used very carefully, without destroying natural ecosystems - they simply will not be digested by millions of people. For example, about 200 people officially pass through the Shantar Islands during the season. But there are unofficial visitors, unorganized - "savages." Similarly, helicopters are hired and fly over the ridge from the Amur Region, from Yakutia to the Tuguro-Chumikansky District, and onto the Maya River - a tributary of Aldan of rare beauty. Mercilessly beat out the river, animals, and there after all you do not control - for hundreds of kilometers around there is no one. Our task is to transform tourism from “wild” into organized one: this means safety, taxes, and jobs for local residents.

- Ecotourism - is it necessarily a cheap flight to distant corners?
- We have a beautiful nature everywhere, we also look at nearby municipalities. For example, in the Nanaian district, which is close to Khabarovsk, the manoma of Manoma is already working - in honor of the same river, the tributary of Anyui. In the same area, the "Mezhdurechye" project is being implemented at a cost of about 300 million rubles. It will be a complex of three recreation centers. One of them is already built for reception of wealthy tourists in the area of ​​the village of Nizhnyaya Manoma. The investor is ready to build two more, already an economy class. On one of the bases, up to 100 people can be accommodated, and negotiations are conducted with the nearby national park "Anyui", so that it allows horse and foot routes on its territory, and sets up watchtowers for monitoring animals.

- Especially protected natural areas are going to such cooperation, are they happy for tourists?
- Difficulties were - at first. But a civilized, organized tourism is also interesting for the special territories themselves. They can get money from this, for example, sell licenses for recreational fishing - on the principle of "caught and released." We are still at the very beginning of this path, but a number of joint projects already exist. In the province there are eight ecological trails in the territories of specially protected areas. Observation of nature is a very promising type of tourism. Particular attention of foreigners is attracted, for example, the route from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Lake Bologna, where during the spring migration, up to 150 thousand species of birds accumulate. The lake is also famous for its island Yadasen, where in the X-XV centuries stood the fortress of the Jurchen. On the island ran the path of a shaman.

- In short, the potential of the industry is great. Are there enough funds for development?
- I will say this: if we talk about support from the budget, of course, the industry is not looking at all in the first place: social organization, industry, defense, and so on. The situation in the economy became more complicated - and then the volume of funds for the profile federal target program was inevitably reduced. And even from the regional budget, we can still issue relatively small subsidies in the tourist sector. But more important. Examples with hotels under construction, with private financing of the complex development plan of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and the tourist cluster show that investors believe in the industry. No one will want to dig in the sand. And for 2013-2016 years we were able to attract about 1,4 billion rubles. Extrabudgetary investments. People invest, build, try to develop. And there are many of them, these are not units. So, the prospects are good. You just have to work.
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