Tourists at lake Baikal, 2006
Photo: Eugene Vadim epanchitsev/TASS
RBC became aware of the details of the project, which may exceed the budget of the Olympic construction in Sochi. The structures of Oleg Deripaska and one of the largest financial corporations of China will build on Baikal tourism cluster $11 billion, Such an ambitious project does not meet the tourist demand, tour operators believe
Intention $11 billion
Russian tour operator “Grand Baikal” and the Chinese “Junctioning” signed in Beijing a Memorandum of cooperation about which the parties announced on 24 October. The document “launched a large-scale project in the Baikal region of modern tourist cluster of world level,” said the report, published on the website of “Grand Baikal”.
Both companies are influential shareholders. 49.9% of “Grand Baikal” belong “GOST Hotel Management”, which manages hotel assets of Oleg Deripaska. The remaining 50,1% of JSC “Irkutskenergo”. The company “Junctioning” is a “daughter” of the Fund’s investments in real estate, which is part of the China international trust and investment Corporation (CITIC), one of the largest financial corporations of the PRC.
The Chinese side announced that the amount of potential investment in tourism project on lake Baikal may amount to $11 billion (nearly 685 billion at the exchange rate on 27 Oct). “Of course, it’s not just investment from China, but because of the agreement signed with the Chinese side to talk about the proportions we can’t,” said RBC General Director of company “Grand Baikal” Victor Grigorov.
According to him, implementation of the project on lake Baikal will take eight years, of which five years is given directly to the construction of modern tourist facilities and associated transport and logistics infrastructure. “What a tourist point will be created, to sound too early,” said Grigorov.
It is known that the project will be implemented on the territory of the former Baikal pulp and paper mill. Earlier the tourists vacationing on the lake, prefer to stay clear of this place. Baikal pulp and paper mill annually dumped into the lake from 27 million to 49 million tons of wastewater, for which it constantly has been criticized by environmentalists. The question of the fate of the enterprise was decided at the level of Vice Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. 25 Dec 2013 the plant was finally closed and just three days later, the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the establishment on its territory of Expocentre “nature Reserves of Russia”.
After that, the Baikalsk have prospects of tourism development, he said Regional information and analytical center STI Galina Solonina (former Executive Director of the Siberian Baikal Association of tourism). According to her, the readiness to build a hotel in the city to the Chinese spoke a half years ago.
Among the advantages of the location of the respondents RBC experts call the city’s necessary municipal infrastructure (clinics, sports facilities, etc.), as well as the region’s largest ski resort “Sobolinaya Mountain”, which can accommodate up to 3.5 thousand tourists. He also belongs to the “Grand Baikal”.
Holiday on lake Baikal is highly seasonal in nature. The high season lasts three and a half warmer months when the region receives the vast majority of tourists. Thanks to the “Mountain Sable” demand for tourism products in the city more smooth. “Unlike any of the points on the lake here year-round tourist season,” — said the Director of tour operator “Baikalov” Anatoly Kazakevich.
On the whole, it is estimated that the number of tourists to Baikal steadily growing at 10-25% per year, and the number of guests from China — even faster. If in the middle of 2000-ies there were about 3-4 thousand per year, now 30-50 thousand, count em.
Explosive dynamics is confirmed by the tourist Association “World without borders”. “Only in 2015 in the framework of a visa-free exchange group of the Irkutsk oblast was visited by over 17 thousand tourists from China, which was 63% more than in 2014,” says Executive Director of the Association Svetlana Pyatikhatki. According to her, in the first half of 2016, the number of Chinese traveling on visa waiver program exceeded 7 million, which is three times more than in the same period of 2015.
According to tour operators, visitors from China are attracted to the accessibility of the region (the flight from Beijing to Irkutsk takes only three hours) and cheap (for the last couple of years, the ruble has depreciated against the Renminbi by almost half). However, the amount of the investments causes the interlocutors of RBC bewilderment.
Depending on the average ticket to ensure the return of the declared investments required increase of tourist flow up to 3-5 million people a year, estimates Kazakevich. For comparison, according to the tourism Agency of the Irkutsk region in 2015 visited the region of 1.17 million tourists, of which of 128.8 thousand were foreigners.
“This figure ($11 billion — RBC) is absolutely absurd. Olympics in Sochi, if you take the resort component and cost less, — said General Director of tour operator “Dolphin” Sergey Romashkin. — In fact, the Chinese offer, figuratively speaking, for us to organize a second Olympics on the shores of Baikal”.
For comparison, according to the chamber, the construction in Sochi of sports stadiums, and support facilities and temporary infrastructure and for the organization and holding of the 2014 winter Olympics and Paralympics has been spent in total 324,9 billion.
According to Sergei Romashkina, given the current number of tourists, the region has no need for such a large project. In addition, it can pollute the environment and harm the image of Baikal lake, which traditionally attracts many tourists as a quiet place for solitude.
“I must say that the Chinese tourist industry is such a trap: on the one hand, this segment has seen rapid growth, but on the other hand other foreign tourists are reluctant to go where many Chinese people”, — said Galina Solonina.
The project “Grand Baikal” is largely social purposes, the Director of “Baikal Top” Timothy Nikitin, Recalling that the Baikal pulp and paper mill was the main enterprise and after its closure in the city there are a lot of unemployed people. “Conditions for the construction of such a resort with a recreation point of view in Baikalsk no. If I was told where to invest $11 billion, I’d pick a few places and it would be other places,” says Nikitin.
Travel to Russia
On the need to develop domestic tourism has repeatedly stated by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The idea became popular two years ago amid cooling international relations, when civil servants have limited travel abroad. In 2015, for various reasons, for the Russians were closed in Turkey and Egypt the most popular destinations of outbound tourism (prohibition of flights between Russia and Egypt is still preserved). All this has caused tourists to shift to domestic resorts. “The number of tourists who prefer tourism in Russia fell by 31%, or 5.6 million people. At the same time, inbound tourism has grown over the year by 1.3 million people,” — said Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets in spring 2016. According to her, domestic tourists last year for the first time reached 50 million people.
On the background of the growing number of tourists increased and the number of projects to develop tourist infrastructure. In particular, in March 2016 Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the establishment of two territories of priority development (TOR) in the Sakhalin — “Mountain air” and “South”. It is planned that the “Mountain air”, which is created based on the eponymous ski resort, attract from private investors of more than 6.1 billion RUB Investment in infrastructure — the creation of ski facilities, engineering infrastructure and the passenger terminal is to be allocated from the regional budget in the mark up of 10.03 billion.
A new tourist cluster will appear in the South in the village of Gurzuf. In the framework of the project, construction works has been estimated at 2.2 billion rubles., planned reconstruction of the Gurzuf seafront, beach and walkways, retaining walls and utilities. The expected result is half “to increase the capacity of beaches in Gurzuf, to create comfortable conditions for rest,” he said following the discussion of the project in the message of the Federal tourism Agency in August 2016.