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Most tourists in the Far East - the Chinese
The Far East, having a wide range of natural resources, is rightfully one of Russia's main resource assets. However, the macro-region has a serious tourist potential, which is currently not fully disclosed. Recent legislative initiatives and development tools currently being implemented, such as TOR and the free ports regime, are designed to improve the situation of the tourism and recreation industry and make the Far East a center of attraction for compatriots and tourists from abroad.
Rostislav TurovskyDoctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
In the absence of a brand
Speaking about the current situation of the industry, it should be noted right away that the Far East does not have world-famous tourist brands. Work in this direction is not being carried out quickly enough, so there is no reason to hope for a sharp increase in the number of foreign tourists in most of the Far Eastern regions.
For example, visiting one of the most beautiful places in the Magadan region - Lake Jack London - is almost impossible because of the lack of roads. A trip to the Kurile Islands is based on the purchase of a paper ticket for the ship: the travel document can be bought at a single ticket office on Sakhalin, it can not be done via the Internet. A huge number of natural beauties and attractions remain inaccessible due to the lack of the simplest infrastructure and transport.
As a consequence, most of the tourists on most destinations are enthusiastic travelers from the regions adjacent to the Far East and the Far Eastern territories themselves, ready to accept the difficulties.
Another significant problem is the great remoteness of the Far East from the European part of Russia and the high cost of travel. The government is trying to maintain air accessibility of the regions by subsidizing Far Eastern transportation. The so-called “flat rates” are introduced - uniform rates with a fixed price, which does not depend on the date of purchase. However, in summer it is quite problematic to fly to the Far East - due to the growing passenger traffic and the small number of carriers, prices soar 2-3 times. In addition, the “flat tariff” is unprofitable for the company, which has been repeatedly stated by the country's largest air carrier, Aeroflot. Thus, these measures contribute to the availability of air travel, but insignificantly affect the growth of tourist flow. In addition, we must not forget that the flight, for example, from Moscow to the ski resort in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is quite long - about 8 hours, so the tourist will most likely prefer a place to relax closer.
The launch of the territories of advanced development has stepped up the process of the formation of attractive regional tourist brands, but the main focus at the moment is on "megaprojects" and attracting foreign tourists.
Guests from the East
The main foreign tourist flow in the Far East is provided by tourists from the Asian region, mainly - China, which are most active in Primorsky Krai. As a result of 2015, Primorsky Krai is leading in the Far Eastern Federal District in terms of the number of foreign visitors - almost 465 thousand people, of which the overwhelming majority are tourists from China - about 329 thousand people (70%), which is 14,9% more than in 2014. Guests from South Korea on the basis of 2015 year arrived much less - only 22 thousand. Primorsky Krai is on the third place in terms of the number of Chinese tourists in the country, second only to Moscow and St. Petersburg. On the second place in the Far Eastern Federal District the Amur region is located, which was visited by 70,5 thousand foreigners (+ 32%), of which almost all - 67 thousand people (+ 43%) arrived from China on visa-free regime. Next comes the Khabarovsk Territory, where 2015 hosted 23,5 thousands of foreign tourists, of which 12 thousand from the PRC. The remaining regions of the Far East, unfortunately, do not differ with serious indicators of inbound tourism, despite, for example, the long-standing interest of many foreign tourists to Kamchatka and its popularity among fans of extreme and ecological tourism.
The growing popularity of trips to Primorye and Russia is associated with a simplified visa regime for tourist groups, according to which groups from 5 to 50 people can stay in Russia for 15 days. Such a “visa-free regime” with China operates from the 2010 year, and since then the number of tourists has increased by 4,3 times - from 158 to 677 thousands in 2015 year. At the moment, the Far East is in second place in Russia in terms of the number of “visa-free” guests - the macro-region accounts for 36% of such trips (about half of them to Primorsky Krai), in the first place is the Central Federal District (55%) The federal district is significantly lagging behind the DFO and has a share of only 9%.
Attractive for foreign tourists was also the decline in the cost of recreation in Russia due to the devaluation of the ruble, which had a significant impact on the growth of tourist traffic in recent years.
In the Far East, there are many drivers of growth in the tourism industry. In the long term, the growth of tourism in the Far East will be provided by the projects of Vladivostok's priority development territories and free port, the creation of tourist clusters within the framework of the state program, the removal of visa barriers, and the development of transport infrastructure.
Of the 13 established at the moment, the TOPs have a tourist-recreational profile. In March 2016, in the Sakhalin region, the TOP "Mountain air" was established, which involves the modernization of the ski resort of the same name. As a result of reconstruction of sports and leisure infrastructure, the complex should interest not only residents of the Sakhalin region and other regions of the Far East, but, according to the developed plan, before 2020 year to become an international ski resort. Anchor investors of the TOP "Mountain Air" plan to implement seven investment projects for a total amount of over 6,1 billion rubles. In the Kamchatka Territory, Kamchatka Territory will create a recreational center Tuluach, which will include a hotel complex, and in the future there will also be a ski resort organization. The volume of investments will be about 1,3 billion rubles. The status of the resident of the TOP was also received by the sanatorium "Pearl of Kamchatka", in the territory of which there are two thermal wells, the initial investment volume - 50 million rubles. Unfortunately, the development of Russky Island in Primorsky Krai remains undervalued by investors. Earlier on the island, a special economic zone (SEZ) was created, in which no resident has been registered since 2010, and now it is subject to closure.
It should be noted the state support of the Far Eastern tourism industry in the framework of the federal target program "Development of domestic and inbound tourism in the Russian Federation (2011-2018)", which involves federal co-financing of the construction of engineering and transport infrastructure. The program includes four projects: the tourist and recreational cluster "Amur" in the Amur Region (1 million rubles of subsidies were allocated from the state budget for the entire period of the program), three seaside projects at once - "Emerald Ring", "Primorskoye Ring" and “Pidan” (076,8 million rubles for all projects), the Yakut “Northern Mosaic” (750 million rubles) and the Khabarovsk cruise cluster “Bolshoi Ussuriisky Island - Shantary” (279 million rubles).
Also, the federal authorities are trying to eliminate administrative barriers as much as possible and to simplify the entry of foreign tourists. First, preferences for tourists are provided within the regime of the Free Port of Vladivostok. At the moment, in the process of preparation is the organization of visa-free stay of foreign citizens from any state on the territory of the Free Port for 8 days. It is assumed that the tourist can get a visa immediately on the border at the entrance to the territory. Unfortunately, the bandwidth regime should have been earned since 1 January 2016, but its launch was delayed due to organizational problems, interagency coordination, and also due to the risks of uncontrolled migration flows. In any case, in the foreseeable future this idea will be implemented and will contribute to the development of the tourism industry of Primorsky Krai. Together with the visa-free regime, tourists should be expected to grow thanks to the development of the integrated entertainment zone Primorje, which includes the casino Tigre de Cristal, the yacht club and other tourist facilities.
Secondly, in the future, tourist growth will be carried out thanks to the adoption of a federal law that simplifies the rules for foreign cruise ships to enter ports in the Arctic and the Far Eastern Federal District. Administrative barriers are eliminated: the principle of “one window” is established to obtain permission to conduct cruises, and tourists on board will no longer need to receive passes to the border zone. The law came into force on July 2016, so the first results can be summed up in the fall, and, undoubtedly, we should expect an increase in the number of cruise routes and tourist flow. Special emphasis on this is being done in Kamchatka and Sakhalin, where the authorities intend to develop cruise tourism and reconstruct port complexes for this purpose.
Thirdly, it should be noted that in the fall of 2015 Vladivostok's international airport Knevichi was the first and only in Russia to receive the status of "open skies". Foreign airlines have the right to unimpeded flights to the capital of Primorye and can make transit flights with a stop in Vladivostok, which should also contribute to the growth of the inbound flow.
The development of inland inbound tourism in the Far East is currently hampered by the weak infrastructure of border crossings, the lack of roads and bridges. Promising are the routes through the Amur River for visiting Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, etc. To promote the development of tourism is called the construction of a bridge across the river. Amur in the area of the cities of Blagoveshchensk and Heihe (China), which should be built by the year of 2019 - a corresponding concession agreement was concluded between the Russian and Chinese sides. Amur Region, thanks to the project, hopes to increase the tourist flow in the long term from 70 thousand to 1 million people per year. In the Khabarovsk Territory there is a project for the development of tourism on the island of Bolshoy Ussuriysk, located near Khabarovsk and at the border with China.
Thus, the federal and regional authorities face the difficult task of developing the tourism industry in the Far East. Tourism in the Far East currently closes mainly in Primorsky Krai, mainly represented by travelers from China and at the same time demonstrates positive dynamics due to already working initiatives. Now the main goal is not only to increase the tourist flow, but also in its diversification: a) in different regions of the Far East; b) for the countries from which the guests arrive; C) by types of tourism. Although the implementation of new projects, the TOP may meet the demands of tourists from European Russia, but the problem of long distances and expensive air tickets still will not significantly increase the domestic tourist flow. Potential for travel from some regions of the Far East to others is, but limited because of the small population. In general, the development of the industry in the macroregion will be carried out due to the influx of foreign tourists and travel of the Far Eastern travelers themselves, which is favored by all recent initiatives of the federal authorities.