According to The Russian Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturizm) the Norwegian hotels on Svalbard are visited by nearly 80.000 people every year, with an annual growth of 10 percent over the last years. Meanwhile, the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Piramida draw less than 2500 people annually. The reason for this is the lack of infrastructure and tourist services, Rostourizm believes.
The agency is now searching for a contractor to analyze the market for tourism to the Russian parts of the Arctic archipelago and to develop a brand for the destination. Rosturizm pays 450.000 rubles (€11.300) for the job.
Russian experts on tourism question the profitability of developing tourism in Barentsburg. “From a business point of view, this is not promising at all”, says Maya Lomidze in the Association of Russian tour operators. “It is not clear, how people are supposed to get to that place or how they will move around. Only a certain type of people would go there and the tourist season is very short. I don’t think they will find enough money to solve all the problems with infrastructure”, she says to Izvestia.
There are some 400 Russians living on Svalbard, which has a total population of approximately 2700. Most of the Russians are employed in the state company Arktikugol’s coal mines.
The Barents Region has some of the last largest areas of intact natural woodlands in Europe. Scientists, bureaucrats and environmentalists from all four Barents countries cooperate on preserving the forest, but an international initiative is needed.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.