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Comfortable Russia is not a Utopia
August 15, 2006 14:26

Special economic zones for tourism and recreation will broaden the borders of Russia. Well, not literally of course. But tourists will have a chance not only to see Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but also to comfortably travel to other regions, provided with modern infrastructure, good hotels and outstanding cultural programmes.

Most Russian regions have always had much to show: ancient churches, buildings of the tsar epoch, magnificent picturesque nature, thousands of beautiful rivers, lakes, hills, plains, and mountains. Every region has its own allure. But lack of infrastructure made them unattractive for tourists. Now the situation is changing.

Russian government decided to develop the tourist sector. In order to foster technological and industrial progress, Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry has legislatively created special economic zones (SEZ). If a region gets the status of a SEZ, all its tourist projects will be offered considerable customs and tax breaks of up to 20 years. 78 billion rubles, with 43 billion rubles of the amount coming from the federal budget, are set apart for these reasons for 4 years.

Yasnaya Polyana The zones are now being created in Russia even faster than in India and China, the world's leaders in this area. After several months of preparation and a tender, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed the resolution creating the first six zones on December 21, 2005. Four of those, in Dubna, Zelenograd, St. Petersburg and Tomsk, were technical-innovative zones, and two of them, in Lipetsk region and Elabuga, were industrial-production zones.

Another tender for recreational special economic zones is held now. The results will be summed up in the fall. It is expected that not more than 5 recreational zones will be formed. Russian newspapers write about the main challengers for the status. This applies primarily to the Black Sea coast, the Caucasus mineral waters region, Lake Baikal, and Altai. According to "Izvestia" Irkutsk oblast and Buryatiya planning to create several tourist resorts around Lake Baikal take the priority as well as Krasnodarsky Kray with its thousands of public beaches at the Black Sea shore, hotels and entertainment centres.

Altai But whoever the winners will be the tender itself stimulates regional governments to develop infrastructure, offer new ideas and create new tourist zones. More than 40 applicants are supposed to fight for the SEZ status. For example, Altayskiy Kray applies with a project of an Alpine skiing complex, a hang-gliding school and a hunting lodge based in one of the already well-known tourist resorts "Biruzovaya Katun". The authorities of Kemerovo oblast promise to build another top-flight Alpine skiing resort. Tula oblast' is ready for the tender as well. What it offers is to develop the so called "Tulsky fenomen" (Tula Phenomenon) -- the world famous "Yasnaya Polyana", where Lev Tolstoy was born in 1828, and lived for about 60 years. Uljanovsk oblast has proposed creation of Russian "Jurassic Park" with prehistoric animals and plants based on Undorovsky paleontology museum. According to the idea, every tourist will have a chance to take part in archeological dig himself. In further publications we will tell you about regional projects that are going to contest for the tender. We will have an eye on it and surely inform you about the results of the tender as soon as they are summed up.

Nastia Makryashina


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