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The East Ring needs a wing

Transport inaccessibility inhibits the development of a federal tourism project in the Far East

The large-scale project "The Eastern Ring of Russia", developed for the development of tourism in the Far East, is still standing still. One of the main reasons is the transport inaccessibility of its facilities. Flights at affordable prices would help to solve this problem. Against this background, the proposal to create a Far Eastern airline is becoming relevant. Whether she will help raise the project to the intended level - EastRussia found out.

The East Ring needs a wing


The federal project “The Eastern Ring of Russia” was first presented at the 2016 Pacific Tourism Forum. 12 subjects will take part in its implementation. It is planned that the project will combine the best places in the Far East into a single route and provide an opportunity to visit the treasures of each region.

The basis of the routes offered for opening within the brand are anchor tourist sites. Depending on the layout of the objects, the focus of the tours is divided into cultural, environmental, gastronomic, sea and others.

Today, the Eastern Ring has seven operating routes: Eastern Necklace, Eastern Ring, Five Elements, Tiger Diamond, Pacific Legends, Fire Tiger and Holiday of Taste. 30 more have been developed. Primorsky Krai is included in 29 of them, Kamchatka Krai - in 14, Khabarovsk Krai - in 13, Sakhalin Oblast - in eight, Yakutia - in seven, Irkutsk Oblast - in three. A variety of activities is offered - from diving to dog sledding. True, so far the tours are mostly “virtual”.

The chairman of the board of the Primorsky branch of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Olga Kudryavtseva claims that tour operators have the resources and specialists. If there were people interested, tours to the Far East exist, but not all are fully implemented.

“We did fan trips in the macro region, including for bloggers from South Korea. Of course, while most of the routes work only on paper, but the matter is only with orders, ”Olga Kudryavtseva believes.

One way or another, with some fanfare, the federal project, unfolded for several years, is “more likely dead than alive.” Even members of the Eastern Ring, officially designated on the Internet, are not particularly optimistic about attracting customers. The representative of Gidrostroy TUR company Natalya Spodorok (based on the Kuril Islands) notes that they rarely come from Vladivostok to the Kuril Islands, mostly people travel from Sakhalin. The "Eastern Ring", as she said, has not yet worked, there has been no surge in tourism.

The regional airline and the development of airports could help in removing restrictions on the development of tourism in the Far East, including along the Eastern Ring routes. The cost of air travel in the Far Eastern Federal District is the most urgent problem. According to estimates of tour operators, 80% of the costs of tourists on the "East Ring" are accounted for by the transport component.

“Perhaps the creation of a Far Eastern air carrier could help solve the problem of transport accessibility,” said Maxim Shurkhno, deputy minister of culture and tourism of the Magadan Territory. - So far we are resolving the issue through subsidies. Thus, the Magadan region together with Kamchatka organizes air passenger transportation on preferential terms. ”

To create an airline for the Far Eastern Federal District in January of this year, Vladimir Putin instructed. He ordered to determine the route network of regional and local air transportation of the Far East, taking into account 40 airports, the reconstruction of which is provided for by a comprehensive plan for modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure, as well as potential passenger traffic on such routes.

Transport accessibility can help the development of the “East Ring”, which you cannot visit as the Golden Ring in two weeks - you need about 20 days and available flights.

“The distances between Vladivostok and Yakutsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky are not comparable with European. Although both foreigners and Russians are very interested in certain areas, for example, Baikal, ”says Evgenia Belyanina, director of the Dialogue of Peoples company.

According to the director of the Tourist Information Center of Primorye, Daria Guseva, the development of the East Ring brand and domestic tourism in the Far Eastern Federal District should be accompanied by subsidized airline tickets, as well as the introduction of a single tariff. In her opinion, such a measure will activate not only the Far Eastern travels in the macro-region, but will also stimulate the interest of residents of the western part of Russia.



The authorities of Primorye set a goal - to develop transport infrastructure in order to become a real logistics hub, where domestic and international tourist flows of the Eastern Ring of Russia are concentrated. The prerequisites for this are obvious - today 80-85% of foreigners, and a significant part of Russians arrive in the Far Eastern Federal District through Vladivostok. There are prerequisites for “looping” cruise ships that call from Japan to Kamchatka and Sakhalin, to Primorye. But tourist trips from Primorye to the peninsula and vice versa cost no less than 100 thousand rubles.

“Many tourists from China, Japan, and Korea come to Vladivostok and then go to Kamchatka,” confirms Evgeny Belyanina. - We had a group of Koreans who arrived in Vladivostok, took a train (three days!) To Irkutsk, then went by plane to Moscow, St. Petersburg, from where they returned to Seoul. There were wealthy tourists from China who went to Kamchatka - helicopters, dog rides and so on. A helicopter costs 600 thousand, and places eight people. There are people who like this kind of tourism. The problem is also that “in the north” there is a small tourist season - July-August. ”

The Chinese and Koreans do not like to rest, lying under palm trees, but prefer to travel actively. Tours along the “Eastern Ring” could provide them, but so far we are not talking about the mass of foreign tourism in this direction - it is too expensive. In addition, there is little information about the project, it is difficult to find catalogs and prospectuses at international tourism exhibitions, prospectuses about a project that seems to be well-known and supported by the state.      

“If we take the Eastern Ring as all 12 regions, it is unbearable in terms of finances and time,” explains Olga Kudryavtseva. “How do the Japanese who have two weeks leave go here?” You can promote individual segments: Primorye, Kamchatka, Sakhalin. Our colleagues agree with this. The potential is huge - beautiful nature and so on. The most difficult deterrent is transport. Discounts on tickets are available during off-season. There is no way to organize groups even from Russian tourists - there are no tickets, group fares. In summer, tickets are simply not available. For the same money or cheaper, it’s easier to go to Spain or Turkey. But now hotels in Vladivostok are half empty. The Chinese come to the May holidays, when it is already warm, then until November, in winter there are very few of them. ”



Tour operators do not have any special hopes for the emergence of a Far Eastern airline: as long as it does not exist at all, and if it does, then, first of all, for flights by local residents. Olga Kudryavtseva believes that people could fly at least from the "depths" of Primorye to Vladivostok. Many residents of other regions of the Far Eastern Federal District visit the region for tourist purposes. In this case, a regional airline could help.

In the meantime, foreign airlines are expanding access to the Far East and its capital. So, on February 28, the first flight of the Japan Airlines airline on the route Tokyo - Vladivostok will take place. The first flights will take place three times a week, but from the end of March the frequency of flights will increase. Now a ticket in economy class can be booked for 229 euros, in business - from 799. JAL Onuki Tetsuya Executive Director stated that he has three main dreams associated with launching a new airline: to open for the Japanese “incredibly beautiful and delicious Vladivostok”, make the lives of ordinary people happier, giving them an additional opportunity to travel, and give the residents of Russia and Japan a pass to the big world.

Some analysts doubt that the East Ring will ever work, even with the availability of flights and a developed hospitality infrastructure.

“As usual, we have a fairly sound idea. This idea is picked up and distorted into something of their own, ”says Yuri Avdeev, director of the Asian-Pacific Institute of Migration Processes. - If we talk about the "Far Eastern Ring", you need to understand what it is about. Enter the skin of a tourist: people go to Kamchatka to the mountains, to ski. Why do they need Vladivostok? Arriving in Kamchatka, the tourist expects that on the peninsula he will be provided with all the services that are in Andorra, Switzerland. Where he comes light, and he will be provided with everything necessary - from underpants to a helmet. How developed is the infrastructure in the Far East? The state does not invest anything, it invests exclusively in private business, naturally, where it considers necessary. ”

He proposes to develop a more modest "Seaside Rings", while not grabbing at the global project.

“People come with well-defined intentions. For example, in Primorye, a group of archaeologists within the ring can visit the ancient sites near Ussuriysky, in the Chuguevsky, Olginsky districts, and so on. Strictly defined - the trip is 12 days, three days there, three days here. The ring closes when people return to Vladivostok airport. Or comes a group who wants to get acquainted with tigers. They travel to all reserves of the region. A transport company operates, entry and exit points are organized. All day tourists at the facilities, in the evening come to comfortable housing, where there is a bar, billiard, bathhouse and so on. At every point where tourists stop, infrastructure is created, ”says Yuri Avdeev.

According to him, as the project develops in the region, it will be possible to attract well-known world hotel brands, travel companies, attract more business representatives to train local entrepreneurs, share their experience.

“On the territory of Primorye, on certain routes, a whole ring will be built, where not only tourists, but also staff will ply. Let’s say a mobile laundry will work, a whole range of services will be improved. So that tourists arriving in the forest receive a full range of services. This will ensure employment of the local population, a high level of services. After all, the rides are not random - we rely on contracts under which tour operators will send at least a certain number of groups of tourists to Primorye, ”the expert said.

According to him, it is necessary to use administrative and commercial resources in order for the project to be cost-effective and profitable. At the same time, the project must have organizers in order for it to be realized and profitable.

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